4.1 Question: Is there a simple way to determine duration of a copyright work in the U.S.?
Answer: The duration of copyright protection in the U.S. is more complicated than in other countries due in part to the fact that the length of copyright protection in the U.S. has been amended a number of times. Helpful charts to determine whether a work is in the public domain are at: http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/public_domain/, and http://www.unc.edu/~unclng/public-d.htm. (2006-3)
4.2 Question: There is a photograph on a Web site that my organization wants to copy and paste into our Web site. There is no copyright notice on the photograph nor any information relating to copyright protection or the name of the photographer or owner of the photograph. Is the work in the public domain?
Answer: No, assume that all content on the Web is protected by copyright unless there is a statement to the opposite, or you have investigated the copyright status of the work. Even a work that does not contain a copyright symbol or other information relating to the identification of the copyright owner is presumably subject to copyright protection. (2008-1)
4.3 Question: Do all countries have the same copyright duration?
Answer: No. The Berne Convention sets out the minimum duration for copyright protection, which is currently life + 50 — fifty years after the author’s death. So most countries (including Canada) still have a life + 50 duration. However, countries are “free” to provide a longer duration and the U.S. and European Union countries now provide a life + 70 duration. Note that this is the “general rule” of copyright duration and specific works such as government works and employment works may have different durations of protection. (2009-1)
4.4 Question: What does public domain mean?
Answer: Public domain means that a work is not protected by copyright. This may occur in several situations. For example, U.S. government works (those created by the U.S. government and its employees) are in the public domain. Also, works in which copyright duration has expired are in the public domain. (2010-1)
4.5 Question: John Doe, a staff newspaper photographer, takes a photograph as part of his employment . John Doe dies in 1955. Is the newspaper’s copyright in the photograph still valid in 2010, or did it expire in 2005 or 50 years after Doe died?
Answer: It depends on which country you are in. For example, in Canada, the duration of an employment work is based upon the life of the author, not the employer. In the U.S., the duration of copyright for an employment work is 95 years from the date of publication or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever expires first. (2010-3)
4.6 Question: Do copyrights have expirations? My husband thinks they run out in 17 years. I have a copyright from 1981 on some artwork. Is it still valid?
Answer: Copyright does have a limited duration. For example, copyright expires 70 years after an author’s death in the U.S. The duration may vary for different works and situations and in different countries. Look at the copyright office in your country to determine what applies in your situation.