Chapter 6

Copyright and Digital Cultural Heritage: Duration of Copyright

Written by Ronan Deazley, May 2017

The term of protection for all types of copyright work is time-limited. This is just one way in which the copyright regime tempers the economic rights of the copyright owner in the public interest. Once copyright in a work expires, that work enters the public domain and (in theory at least) it is free to be used by anyone, without the need for permission. However, determining when a work is or is not in copyright is not always straightforward, and particularly when dealing with historic documents and records held in archives and other similar collections.

In this commentary, we consider duration of protection.

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