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When do copyrights of very old songs expire?

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  • When do copyrights of very old songs expire?

    Hello, I'm an amateur US songwriter. I wrote new lyrics for the music of a song that was copyrighted circa 1930. I found a professional performer interested in performing both my lyrics (which I copyrighted last year) and the original music. Anybody know if and when song copyrights expire?

  • #2
    Re: When do copyrights of very old songs expire?

    Copyright on a song expires 70 years after the artist death. so the persons lifetime plus 70 years.

    in the case there are two or more artist its 70 years after the last person death.

    I hope that makes sense.

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    • #3
      Re: When do copyrights of very old songs expire?

      Copyright is determined upon when it was published and whether or not the copyright was renewed:
      • Published before 1923 - now in public domain
      • Published from 1923 to 1963 - When published with a copyright notice © or "Copyright [dates] by [author/owner]" - copyright protection lasts 28 years and could be renewed for an additional 67 years for a total of 95 years. If not renewed, now in public domain.
      • Published from 1923 to 1963 - When published with no notice - now in public domain
      • Published from 1964 to 1977 - When published with notice - copyright protection lasts 28 years for first term; automatic extension of 67 years for second term for a total of 95 years.
      • Created before 1/1/1978 but not published - copyright notice is irrelevant - copyright protection lasts for the life of author and 70 years or 12/31/2002, whichever is greater
      • Created before 1/1/1978 and published between 1/1/1978 and 12/31/2002 - notice is irrelevant - copyright protecion lasts the life of author and 70 years or 12/31/2047, whichever is greater
      • Created 1/1/1978 or after - When work is fixed in tangible medium of expression - notice is irrelevant - copyright protecion lasts for the life of author and 70 years based on the the longest living author if jointly created or if work of corporate authorship, works for hire, or anonymous and pseudonymous works, the shorter of 95 years from publication, or 120 years from creation.

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