How long does UK copyright last?

Copyright in a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work (including a photograph) lasts until 70 years after the death of the author. The duration of copyright in a film is 70 years after the death of the last to survive of the principal director, the authors of the screenplay and dialogue, and the composer of any music specially created for the film. Sound recordings, broadcasts and cable programmes are protected for 50 years, and published editions are protected for 25 years.

However, these terms of protection essentially apply only to works originating in the United Kingdom or another state in the European Economic Area. In other cases, the term of protection granted in the United Kingdom is that given by the country of origin of the work, which may be shorter.

Is there any protection after copyright expires?

If a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or film for which the copyright has expired has never been made available to the public, it may be protected by publication right. This is granted automatically to the first person to make a relevant work or film available to the public within the European Economic Area, lasts for 25 years from the time of making available, and gives rights broadly similar to those given by copyright.

© Crown Copyright 1997.

As UK copyright law is generally in line with EU directives, this will probably match all other European countries.

Please remember that even though e2 is hosted in the US, the copyright law of the country of origin is the law that applies to any material you may node. If you node and break EU copyrighted material, you are breaking EU copyright law, not US copyright law. So next time you walk through Heathrow airport, beware the copyright police.

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