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Maryland Copyright Law Attorney: When Does Formerly Copyrighted Material Become Part of The Public Domain?

Maryland Attorney Stephen J. Reichert www.reichertlegal.comWhen a previously copyrighted material becomes part of the public domain, that work can be used without permission form the previous copyright owner.

The following is a guide to help determine if material has become part of the public domain.

1. BEFORE 1923: All material published in the United States before 1923 is in the public domain.

2. BETWEEN 1923 – 1963: If the work was published between 1923 and 1963, you must check with the U.S. Copyright Office to see whether the copyright was properly renewed. If the author failed to renew the copyright, the work has fallen into the public domain and you may use it.

3. BETWEEN 1923 – 1978: Works published after 1923 and before 1978 are protected for 95 years from the date of publication. If the work was created, but not published, before 1978, the copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. However, even if the author died over 70 years ago, the copyright in an unpublished work lasts until December 31, 2002.

4. AFTER 1978: For works published in 1978 or later, the copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. There is an exception: if the work is a work for hire is published anonymously or under a pseudonym, the copyright lasts between 95 and 120 years, depending on the date the work is published.

For a confidential conversation to discuss these and other copyright law matters, contact Maryland copyright attorney Stephen J. Reichert at 410-299-4959, or by clicking here.

Day, evening and weekend appointments are available in office or at your residence. Mr. Reichert personally serves clients in Baltimore, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, Howard County, Carroll County, Harford County, Frederick County, Montgomery County and throughout most of Maryland.