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Old March 19th, 2003, 12:51 PM
pauldrye pauldrye is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Big Tim:
Copyrights do expire and after a certain length of time (don't recall the amount) unless they're 'renewed' they revert to Public Domain.
That was the system in the United States until the 1970s, but the U.S. always had an oddball system and it's since been reformed to match world standards.

In general, copyright these days is "author's life plus 75 years" -- the clock starts ticking off 75 years after an author has died. You get copyright on an original work automatically, without need to register or renew or anything similar.

In the United States, however, there have been several copyright extension acts pushed through with the backing of your entertainment industry (most notoriously the "Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act") which looks to be making copyright perpetual there.

As a result there are a number of older works (1910s and 20s) which are now in the public domain pretty much everywhere in the world except the U.S. If you browse the web you'll find that many of the sites hosting public domain materials have taken to putting up mirrors in places like Australia, and adding notes to their links that accessing such and such a book from the U.S. is against the law. The penalties are rather steep, if I recall correctly.
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