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How long does copyright last?

Generally copyright lasts the lifetime of the creator plus an additional seventy years after their death. This will vary in some instances and for some material, and may be different in other countries.

After the designated time has elapsed the work will then become ‘public domain’.

Public Domain

The term 'public domain' is used to refer to works that are not owned by anyone and therefore not protected by copyright.

Works can become part of the public domain because:

  • Copyright protection does not apply when the work was created before copyright laws were made
  • Copyright has expired (eg. seventy years has passed since the death of an author)
  • Copyright has been relinquished (given over to the public domain).
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