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© 2008 – Tony Laidig. All rights reserved.

The Publisher has strived to be as accurate and complete as possible in the creation of
this report, notwithstanding the fact that he does not warrant or represent at any time
that the contents within are accurate due to the rapidly changing nature of the Internet.

While all attempts have been made to verify information provided in this publication, the
Publisher assumes no responsibility for errors, omissions, or contrary interpretation of
the subject matter herein. Any perceived slights of specific persons, peoples, or
organizations are unintentional.

In practical advice books, like anything else in life, there are no guarantees of income
made. Readers are cautioned to reply on their own judgment about their individual
circumstances to act accordingly.

This book is not intended for use as a source of legal, business, accounting or financial
advice. All readers are advised to seek services of competent professionals in legal,
business, accounting, and finance fields.

You are encouraged to print this book for easy reading.

The Public Domain in the UK and Other Countries
by Tony Laidig

The copyright laws vary from country to country, so space will not permit me to share all
the copyright scenarios for each country around the world. I would highly recommend
that you familiarize yourself with the copyright laws that govern intellectual property
rights in your own country. While I am not a copyright attorney who can help you
navigate through the tangled, and sometimes, confusing web of international copyright
law, I will share with you what I’ve learned and understand to be true. As an example, I’ll
share how this usage of Public Domain works from the United States would be viewed
in the UK, and how the copyright laws of the UK affect its own works (books,
photographs, films, audios, etc.).

In the UK, the copyright laws work differently than those in the United States. The
general rule of thumb concerning copyright for literary works is that the copyright
expires 70 years after the death of the author or creator of the work. So if a work was
published in 1930 in the UK, and the author died in 1934, the work would have passed
into the Public Domain in the UK in 2004. However if the author of the same work did
not die until 1948, the work would not pass into the Public Domain until 2018. There are
some exceptions, such as, when more than one person is listed as author or creator of
the work. In that case, the length of the copyright is determined as 70 years after the
death of the longest lived of those individuals. So if a work was written by two authors
who collaborated together, and one author died in 1934 and the other died in 1948, the
copyright would remain in effect until 2018, seventy years from the death of the
remaining author.

There is an excellent guide online that has been compiling the names of authors and
their works who died in each year since 1700. This guide currently catalogs over
113,000 authors, and can be used to determine whose copyrights expire(d) each New
Year in past and future years. You can access this guide, not only for the authors of
books, but for magazines and other literary works as well. Here is the web address:

If you are living in the UK, but wonder about using works from the United States that are
in the Public Domain there, there are a few simple tips to keep in mind.

1) The rule of the shorter term, also called the comparison of terms, is a provision
in international copyright treaties that allows participating countries to limit the
duration of copyright they grant to foreign works to the copyright term a work is
granted in its country of origin. What that means is that many works that are now
in the Public Domain in the United States will also be in the Public Domain in the
foreign countries who follow the rule of shorter term. This rule is especially
important regarding the copyright of works published in the United States
between the years of 1923 and 1964 but were not renewed. Works published
BEFORE 1923 are already in the Public Domain.

For every country that follows the rule of the shorter term, works that are in the
Public Domain in the United States should ALSO be in the Public Domain in
those countries as well, provided the copyright was NOT renewed in the 28th year
after the original publication date. However, there is an exception to this rule in
the UK. The United Kingdom followed the rule of the shorter term before 1956,
but didn’t follow it during the years, 1956-1996. Then in 1996, the UK began to
follow it again. So what does that mean to individuals in the UK? Simply this…
books, magazines, journals and periodicals (as well as other literary and visual
works) that were published in the United States during 1923 through 1928 and
did NOT have their copyrights renewed in their 28th year (the latter being 1956)
are NOW in the Public Domain in the UK as well. Works that were published in
the United States between the years of 1929 and 1963 whose copyrights were
not renewed, must follow the UK copyright laws in effect during that time,
meaning the life of the author plus 70 years. So as of this current year, 2008, any
book published in the United States from the time period of 1929-1963, and the
copyright was NOT renewed in the United States, is in the Public Domain in the
UK, IF the author(s) died before 1938.

2) Selling in the United States. A number of savvy internet marketers who are
based in the UK have been using a simple method to get around this US-UK
copyright dilemma. The “secret” is simply this: Keep all the elements of your
Public Domain-based products based in the United States. The way you would
accomplish that is to have your website set up as a .com and hosted on a server
in the United States. Also, use a United States-based payment processor (like
Clickbank or PayDotCom). You’ll also want to make sure you mention that your
product is in the Public Domain in the United States and that copyright
restrictions may apply in other countries. Adding a line or two to your disclaimer
should take care of it. By taking this approach, you can avoid most of the
copyright issues mentioned above entirely. Of course the safest bet of all when
using works from the United States is to stick with content published before 1923
(or before 1928 if the copyright wasn’t renewed). Then, thanks to the rule of the
shorter term, your content will definitely be in the Public Domain and no further
actions should be necessary.

3) A Few Exceptions. There are a few exceptions to the copyright rules shared
above (you knew it, right?) that can affect those in the UK (and other countries).
I’m not going to go into a lot of detail with them, but I do want to point them out to
you. These exceptions involve works that are in the Public Domain in the United
States but were written by non-US citizens. There are two primary examples to
consider here:

a. Was the author a non-US citizen? If the work was first published in the
United States and now in the Public Domain in the United States, but the
author was a citizen of another country, the copyright laws of the country
where the author maintained citizenship apply (author’s life + 70 years in
many cases) for that country.

b. Was the work published in a country other than the US first? If the
work was first published in another country and then later published in the
United States, the copyright laws of the first country apply (author’s life +
70 years in many cases).

The following is a fairly complete, up-to-date list of the copyright rules for various
countries around the world. These tables summarise the conditions a work must meet in
order to be safely considered public domain

Not public domain

Conditions Date PD

unpublished works created before 1978 and published 1977–2003

Public domain

Corporate authorship

'Corporate authorship' refers to works written for hire or in the name of a corporation.

Date of
Conditions Public domain Template

Works created 120+ years ago

none. unpublished none.

• published outside the works created 120+ years ago none.

1923 through US and copyright in its (1887) or published 95+ years ago
1977 home country (1912), whichever is earliest.

• no notice, but works created 120+ years ago

1978–1 March
subsequent registration (1887) or published 95+ years ago none.
1989 • or with notice (1912), whichever is earliest.

works created 120+ years ago

After 1 March
none. (1887) or published over 95+ years none.
ago (1912), whichever is earliest.

Unpublished works

An unpublished work is one that has never been published in any form, or which was
first published after 2003 but created before 1935.

Note for the European Union: If a previously unpublished work is published first time
("editio princeps") later than 70 years after the death of the author, then it is no more
public domain but it is granted a copyright for 25 years (Council Directive 93/98/EEC)

Type of work What is public domain Template

• Most works (except those below)

works of authors who died 70+ {{PD-old-
• or created before 1978 and published
after 2002 years ago (1937) 70}}

• anonymous or pseudonymous Works created 120+ years ago

• or author's date of death unknown {{PD-old}}

Published in the United States

Date of Condition What is public domain Template

Before 1923 none. all works. {{PD-1923}}

1923–1963 with notice, no renewal[b] all works. no-

1923–1963 with notice and renewal[b] Works published 95+ years ago (1912) none.

1923–1977 no copyright notice all works.

1964–1977 with notice Works published 95+ years ago (1912) none.

1978–1 no notice or subsequent

all works. none.
March 1989 registration

• no notice, but
1978–1 subsequent works of authors who died 70+ years ago
registration none.
March 1989 (1937)
• or with notice

After 1 March works of authors who died 70+ years ago

1989 (1937)

prepared by an on-duty
officer or employee of the {{PD-
Any time all works.
United States Federal USGov}}

Official records, UN documents issued

with a UN symbol, and not-for-sale public
official documents of the
Any time [4] information materials designed primarily {{PD-UN}}
United Nations
to inform the public about United Nations

Published outside the United States

Note: Foreign works published after 1923 are likely to be still under copyright in the US
because of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, even if they briefly entered public
domain before the agreement[5]. Only unambiguous conditions are listed below.
Date of
Condition What is public domain Template

Before 1 July
none. all works. none.

1 July 1909–
in compliance with US formalities all works. none.

public domain in its home country {{PD-

1923–1977 all works.
as of 1 January 1996 1996}}

After 1 January works by authors who died

copyright in its home country
1978 95+ years ago (1912)

Published in Greater China

Condition What is public domain Template

Works ineligible Laws; regulations; resolutions, decisions and orders of State

for copyright in organs; other documents of a legislative, administrative or judicial
Mainland China nature; and their official translations.

Official works, in particular the texts of treaties, laws and

Official works of {{PD-
regulations and those of reports or decisions by authorities of any
Macao MO}}
kind, and translations thereof.

Works ineligible The constitution, acts, regulations, official documents (including

for copyright in proclamations, text of speeches, news releases, and other
Taiwan documents prepared by civil servants in the course of carrying out
their duties), and their translations and compilations by central or
local government agencies.


Condition What is public domain Template

No creative content Some works (vague) {{PD-ineligible}}

Copyright released by
All works {{PD-release}}

Works where research has uncovered no {{PD-

Public manifesto
copyright manifesto}}

Copyright terms by country

These tables outline the estimated length of time of copyright per country[6][7][8]. Laws
regarding anonymous works, corporate-authored works, or non-literary works vary per
country. This is not intended to be used as a legal guideline since it cannot reflect
the complexity of the copyright laws in effect at any one time and since copyright
laws are changing continuously; this section simply provides a useful summary as
part of a more in-depth research.

Country Copyright length

Albania life + 70

Algeria life + 50
Andorra life + 70

Angola life + 50

Argentina life + 70

Armenia life + 50

Aruba unknown

Australia life + 50 if author died before 1955, otherwise life + 70

Austria life + 70

Azerbaijan life + 50

Bahrain life + 50

Bangladesh life + 50

Barbados life + 50

Belarus life + 50

Belgium life + 70

Belize life + 50
Benin life + 50

Bhutan life + 50

Bolivia life + 50

Bosnia and
life + 70

life + 70 for known authors
• first publication + 70 for anonymous or pseudonymous works
(only if the author don't makes his identity known before the

first publication + 70 for audiovisual and photographic works ,
Brazil phonograms and transmission for the broadcasts of broadcasting
• texts of treaties or conventions, laws, decrees, regulations,
judicial decisions and other official enactments shall be excluded
from copyright protection

Brunei life + 50

Bulgaria life + 70

Burkina Faso life + 50

Burundi life + 50

Cambodia life + 50

Cameroon life + 50

Canada life + 50

Cape Verde life + 50

Chile life + 50

China life + 50
Colombia life + 80

Costa Rica life + 70

Cote d'Ivoire life + 99

Croatia Life + 70

Cuba life + 50

Czech Republic life + 70

Denmark life + 70

Djibouti life + 25

Dominica life + 70

Dominican Republic life + 50

Ecuador life + 70

Egypt life + 50

El Salvador life + 50

Estonia life + 70

European Union life + 70

Fiji life + 50

Finland life + 70

France life + 70

Georgia life + 50

Germany life + 70

Ghana life + 70
Greece life + 70

Guatemala life + 75

Honduras life + 75

Hong Kong life + 50

Hungary life + 70

Iceland life + 70

life + 60 for literary or musical works or artistic works, publication + 60 for

India [14][15]
others .

Indonesia life + 50

Iran life + 30

Iraq life + 50 (imposed by occupying provisional authority)

Ireland life + 70

Israel life + 70

Italy life + 70

Jamaica life + 50

Japan life + 50 (life + 70 years for motion pictures)

Jordan life + 50

Kazakhstan life + 50

Kenya life + 50

Korea (South) life + 50

Kuwait life + 50

Kyrgyzstan life + 50
Latvia life + 70

Lebanon life + 50

Libya life + 25, with 50-year minimum (as of 1968; may have changed since)

Liechtenstein life + 70

Lithuania life + 70

Luxembourg life + 70

Macao life + 50

Madagascar life + 70

Malaysia life + 50

Maldives none

Mali life + 50

Malta life + 70

Marshal Islands none

Mauritius life + 50

Mexico life + 100

Moldova life + 50

Mongolia life + 50

Montenegro life + 70

Morocco life + 50

Namibia life + 50

The Netherlands life + 70

New Zealand life + 50

Nicaragua life + 70

Niger life + 50

Nigeria Life + 70

Norway life + 70

Oman life + 50

Pakistan life + 50

Palau life + 50

Panama life + 50

Papua New Guinea life + 50

Paraguay life + 70

Peru life + 70

Philippines life + 50

Poland Life + 70

Qatar life + 50

Romania life + 70

life + 70 (life + 50 for works whose copyright expired before July 28,
Russia [16]

Saint Vincent and the

life + 50

Samoa Life + 75

Saudi Arabia life + 50

Serbia life + 70

Seychelles life + 25

Singapore life + 70

Slovakia life + 70

Slovenia life + 70

Solomon Islands life + 50

South Africa life + 50

Spain life + 70

Sudan life + 50

Swaziland life + 50

Sweden life + 70

Switzerland life + 70

Syria life + 50

Taiwan life + 50

Tajikistan life + 50

Tanzania life + 50

Thailand life + 50

Togo life + 50

Tonga life + 50

Trinidad and Tobago life + 50

Tunisia life + 50
Turkey life + 70

United Arab Emirates life + 50

United Kingdom life + 70

expired for works published before 1923; 28 or 95 years for works

United States of
copyrighted 1923-1963; 95 years for works copyrighted 1964-1977;
thereafter life+70.

Uruguay life + 50

Uzbekistan life + 50

Venezuela life + 60

Vietnam life + 50

Yemen life + 30

Zambia life + 50

Zimbabwe life + 50


• ^a These works have copyright terms extending 70 years beyond the author's life, or
until 31 December 2047 (whichever is greater).
• ^b The United States Copyright renewal records search engine is a useful tool for
determining renewal status.

1. The criteria tables are primarily derived from the Cornell Copyright Information Center's Public
Domain chart, which is copyrighted by Peter Hirtle and released under the Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial License 2.0.

2. Copyright durations, Bromberg and Sunstein, LLP

3. Circular 15a from the United States Copyright Office

4. As Section 7 of the United States Headquarters Agreement for the United Nations, Public Law 80-357
applies the United States laws to the United Nations Headquarters, works published there are
copyrighted in the same way as other works published in the United States.

5. Highlights of Copyright Amendments Contained in the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA).
Circular 38b (Portable Document Format), Library of Congress Copyright Office

6. How Can I Tell Whether a Book Can Go Online?, Online Books Page

7. Summary of copyright terms The Online Books Page

8. Collection of National Copyright Laws, United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural

9. Law No. 9610 of February 19, 1998, on Copyright and Neighboring Rights, article 41

10. Law No. 9610 of February 19, 1998, on Copyright and Neighboring Rights, article 43

11. Law No. 9610 of February 19, 1998, on Copyright and Neighboring Rights, article 44

12. Law No. 9610 of February 19, 1998, on Copyright and Neighboring Rights, article 96

13. Law No. 9610 of February 19, 1998, on Copyright and Neighboring Rights, article 8

14. A Hand Book of Copyright Law, Government of India Ministry of Human Resource Development

15. Copyright in India: Law & Procedure, Ezine Articles

16. (Russian)

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