Length of time copyright lasts for

How long does copyright last?

Copyright does not last forever and different rules apply to different types of work. Generally, material can be used without seeking permission once the copyright has expired.

The table below is a guide to some duration rules and applies to works still in copyright on 1 January 2005. On 1 January 2005 the period of protection for copyright material was extended under the Australia–US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA). There was, however, no revival of any copyright that expired before 1 January 2005 under the pre-AUSFTA rules.

 Type of Work  Duration
 General rule for published works  Life of author + 70 years
 Film & sound recordings  Year first published + 70 years
 Published editions  Year first published + 25 years
 Broadcast  Year first broadcast + 50 years
 Artwork or photos  Life of author + 70 years
 Crown copyright  Year first published or made + 50 years
 Unpublished  Life of author + 70 years

For more details see the Australian Copyright Council's information sheet on the Duration of Copyright.

In Australia, there is no register of copyright material, and no list of what material is in the “public domain”. Sometimes, you will need to do some detective work to determine whether or not something is still protected.  

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