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Resources > Copyrights Resources > Duration of Copyright

The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, effective January 25, 1999, amends the provisions concerning the duration of copyright protection. The terms of copyright are generally extended for an additional 20 years.

For works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection will endure for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years.

In the case of a joint work, the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving author's death.

For anonymous and pseudonymous works and works made for hire, the term will be 95 years from the year of first publication or 120 years from the year of creation, whichever expires first.

For works created but not published or registered before January 1, 1978, the term endures for the life of the author plus 70 years, but in no case will expire earlier than December 21, 2002. If the work is published before December 31, 2002, the term will not expire before December 31, 2047.

For pre-1978 works still in their original or renewal term of copyright, the total term is extended to 95 years from the date that copyright was originally secured.

There are additional provisions regarding sound recordings made before February 15, 1972, termination of grants and licenses, presumption of an author's death, and reproduction by libraries and archives.