2.7.1.1.6: The Public Domain

Works that pass into the Public Domain are no longer protected by the Copyright law. PL 105-298 (Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of October 27, 1998) revised the terms by which materials pass into the Public Domain. They are as follows:

Date of Work

Protected From

Term

Created 1-1-78 or after

When work is fixed in tangible form of expression

Life + 70 years[1] (or if work of corporate authorship, the shorter of 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation)

Published before 1923

In public domain

None

Published from 1923 – 1963

When published with notice

28 years + could be renewed for 47 years, now extended by 20 years for a total renewal of 67 years. If not so renewed, now in the public domain

Published from 1964 – 1977

When published with notice

28 years for first term; now automatic extension of 67 years for second term.

Created before 1-1-78 but not published

1-1-78, the effective date of the 1976 Act which eliminated common law copyright

Life + 70 years or 12-31-2002, whichever is greater

Created before 1-1-78 but published between then and 12-31-2002

1-1-78, the effective date of the 1976 Act which eliminated common law copyright

Life + 70 years or 12-31-2047 whichever is greater.



[1] Term of joint works is measured by life of the longest-lived author.