Leeds University Library
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How long does copyright last?

Generally, for published material (literary, dramatic, musical and artistic), work remains in copyright until 70 years after the death of the author/creator.

This includes material published in EU countries or the USA (work published in certain other countries may be protected for a shorter period of 50 years after the death of the author).

However, there are some exceptions to the rule:

  • Crown Copyright material and Parliamentary Copyright material: 50 years from the end of the year of first publication
  • Databases: as well as the full term of copyright in the material included, there is a 15-year database right - this begins from each time the database is updated
  • Sound recordings: 50 years from first publication (so recordings from before the end of 1962 are in the public domain from the end of 2012)
  • Films: 70 years from the death of whoever is last to survive of director, screenwriter, composer
  • Broadcasts: 50 years from when broadcast first made
  • Typography of published editions: 25 years from first publication
  • Unpublished material is all currently in copyright:
    pre-1989 material until 2039
    post-1989 material until 70 years after year of creation.

Remember there may be multiple authors/creators of any one work.