Sunday, April 19, 2009

Copyright duration

Each country has a general duration of copyright protection. The Berne Convention (www.wipo.org) requires its 164 member countries to protect copyright works for a minimum of 50 years after the author's death. So member countries such as Canada has a duration of life plus 50. Other member countries such as European Union countries and the U.S. have extended their copyright protection to life plus 70. This helps protect creators and owners and may be a burden to researchers, archivists, educators and others who then need to clear copyright for an additional 20 years in those countries.

In practice, this means that if you use a copyright-protected work in the U.S., you will have to clear the copyright in the work if the author has been not been dead for 70 years. However, if you use the same work in Canada, you may freely use the work if the author has been dead for 50 years. However, if you are using that work on a Web site accessible around the world (and following the rule that you apply the law of the country where the work is being used), even if you are located in Canada, you would clear the rights for life-plus-70 to “cover yourself” for access from the U.S. and other countries with the longer duration of copyright protection.

Please provide any comments below.

Lesley

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