Works Originally Created On or After January 1, 1978
A work that is created (fixed in tangible form for the first time) on or after January 1, 1978, is automatically protected from the moment of its creation and is ordinarily given a term enduring for the authorís life plus an additional 70 years after the authorís death. In the case of ďa joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire,Ē the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving authorís death.
For works made for hire, and for anonymous and pseudonymous works (unless the authorís identity is revealed in Copyright Office records), the duration of copyright will be 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, which-ever is shorter.
Works Originally Created Before January 1, 1978, But Not Published or Registered by That Date
These works have been automatically brought under the statute and are now given federal copyright protection. The duration of copyright in these works will generally be computed in the same way as for works created on or after January 1, 1978: the
life-plus-70 or 95/120-year terms will apply to them as well. The law provides that in no case will the term of copyright for works in this category expire before December 31, 2002, and for works published on or before December 31, 2002, the term of copyright will not expire before December 31, 2047.
Works Originally Created and Published or Registered Before January 1, 1978
The Copyright Act of 1976 extended the renewal term from 28 to 47 years for copy-rights that were subsisting on January 1, 1978, or for pre-1978 copyrights making these works eligible for a total term of protection of 75 years. Public Law 105-298, enacted on October 27, 1998, further extended the renewal term of copyrights still subsisting on that date by an additional 20 years, providing for a renewal term of 67 years and a
total term of protection of 95 years (after the original copyright date).
Public Law 102-307 makes renewal registration optional. Thus, filing for renewal registration is no longer required in order to extend the original 28-year copyright term to the full 95 years.