How Long Is a Copyright on a Book

logo by Editorial Staff | Posted on December 21st, 2022

Are you an author wondering about the copyright of your book? Are you a publisher who’s curious about the legal implications of publishing works? If so, then this blog post is for you. Here we’ll discuss how long a copyright lasts on a book and what that means for authors and publishers.

A copyright lasts for the author’s life and an additional 70 years after death. This applies to all books published on or after January 1, 1978. For books published between 1964 and 1977, the copyright period is 95 years.

book lot on table

Published before 1964, the copyright period is 75 years from the first fixation of the recording or the first performance/recording of it. In the US, if the book was first published before January 1, 1978, copyright protection is extended to 95 years from its first publication.

Copyright protection for books outside of the US varies depending on the jurisdiction, but most countries adhere to similar rules regarding the duration of copyright protection.

Copyright is a form of intellectual property protection that grants authors exclusive rights to their work. Specifically, the copyright holder has the legal right to control the work’s reproduction, distribution, performance, display, and adaptation.

This protects authors from having their work copied without permission or compensation. The length of copyright protection varies depending on when a work was created, but generally, it lasts for the author’s life plus 70 years.

Although copyright protects authors from having their work stolen or copied without permission, it is important to remember that there are certain exceptions to copyright protection, such as fair use.

The duration of copyright protection is generally based on the date of first publication, with works published after January 1, 1978, having a copyright term of life of the author plus seventy years.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For anonymous and pseudonymous works, the work is protected for 95 years from the first publication or 120 years from the date of its creation, whichever comes first.

Also, for works published between and including the years 1964 and 1977, copyright protection is 95 years. Finally, for sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972, copyright protection lasts for 75 years from the first fixation of the recording or the first performance/recording of it.

If you have written a book and want to protect your work from being copied or plagiarized, one of the best ways to do so is to register it with the US Copyright Office. This will give you exclusive legal rights to your work to prevent anyone else from using it without your permission. To register your book, you need to meet certain requirements.

First, you must be the book’s author and own all its rights. Each author must be listed in the application and sign a joint declaration if the book has been co-authored. You must also provide two copies of the book, submit a completed application form, and pay a registration fee. It usually takes three to four months for the Office to process the application and issue a Certificate of Registration.

Once your book is registered, you must keep a record of all copies of it and any changes made to it. This will help you defend your copyright if someone else is found to be using it without your permission.

Further, you should consider using a watermark or other indelible form of identification to mark all copies of your book to prove that it belongs to you in case of any dispute.

Renewing or extending the length of copyright is not always possible—copyright protection typically lasts for the author’s life plus seventy years. However, there are certain situations where an author can renew or extend the duration of the copyright.

For example, the copyright for some works published between 1964 and 1977 is 95 years from the date of first publication. Additionally, for anonymous and pseudonymous works, the copyright is protected for 95 years from the date of first publication or 120 years from the year of creation, whichever comes first.

Finally, if the book was first published before January 1, 1978, and was not renewed after 28 years, the copyright has expired and is no longer under protection.

What is Fair Use, and How Does it Apply to Books?

Fair use is a legal doctrine that allows the public to use copyrighted works without permission from the copyright holder. It is intended to balance the public’s right to access copyrighted works and the copyright holder’s right to protect their intellectual property.

Fair use can be applied to books in limited circumstances, such as for scholarly or educational purposes or commentary and criticism. When determining whether a use is fair, courts consider four factors: the purpose and character of the use; the nature of the copyrighted work; the amount and substantiality of the portion used; and the effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

It is important to note that fair use is a defense against a copyright infringement claim, but it is not necessarily a guarantee that use does not infringe on a copyright. Therefore, it is important to consult an attorney if you are unsure whether your intended use of a book is protected by fair use.

Penalties for Violating Copyrights on Books

Violating a book’s copyright is a serious offense and can have serious consequences. Copyright infringement is a crime punishable by law, and offenders can face civil penalties such as fines and damages.

Depending on the severity of the infringement, criminal penalties may also be applied in certain cases. In addition to legal penalties, the court may also order the destruction or seizure of infringing copies of the book. It is important to understand copyright laws and respect them to avoid potentially costly consequences.

Understanding International Copyrights on Books

International copyright laws can be complex and vary from country to country. Generally, copyright laws are based on the Berne Convention, which states that a copyright is conferred upon a work instantly when created and fixed in a tangible form. However, some countries may require registration or other steps to secure international copyright protection.

It is important to understand the laws in the countries where your book is published or distributed to ensure your rights are protected. Additionally, you may want to explore registering for international copyright protection to ensure your book is protected in multiple countries. It is also important to be aware of any international treaties or agreements that could affect your copyright protection.

For example, the United States has signed numerous agreements with other countries that grant additional author protections. By understanding the international copyright laws that apply to your book, you can be sure that you are taking the necessary steps to protect your work and ensure that it remains yours.

Protecting Your Book from Piracy and Plagiarism

One of the most important aspects of copyright law is protecting your work from piracy and plagiarism. Unauthorized copying, distribution, or display of a copyrighted work without permission is considered piracy. Plagiarism is slightly different; it involves using someone else’s ideas, words, or expressions without giving credit to the original author.

To ensure your book is protected from piracy and plagiarism, register it with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registration provides evidence that you are the owner and creator of the work and can be used to prove infringement in court. Additionally, registering your work with the U.S. Copyright Office helps deter potential infringers, showing that you are serious about protecting your rights.

Another way to protect your book from piracy and plagiarism is to use digital rights management (DRM). DRM technology prevents unauthorized access to digital content and helps protect content creators from piracy and plagiarism by allowing them to set restrictions on how their content can be used. It also helps protect consumers from being charged for the content they did not purchase or access.

Once a book’s copyright has expired, it enters the public domain, and anyone is free to use it. This means that the original author no longer has exclusive rights to the work and can no longer sell or profit from it.

However, an author can still sell their work after the expired copyright. Since the material is now in the public domain, anyone can copy and reproduce it, including the original author. This means that an author can continue to sell their work after the copyright expires as long as they produce and sell the copies.

Additionally, although the work is in the public domain, authors may still be able to benefit from marketing and branding efforts associated with their work. They can also rework and repurpose the material to create new works still under copyright protection.

Finally, authors should always be aware of any international laws related to copyright in case their works are being used outside of their country of origin. Different countries have different copyright laws, so authors should check with local laws to ensure that their works are being used legally.

What Happens To The Rights Of A Book After The Author Dies?

When the author of a book dies, the copyright protection for the work remains in effect for 70 years after the death. During this time, their heirs can control the book’s economic rights deciding when and how it can be used. After 70 years have passed, the work enters the public domain, and anyone can use it without permission or payment.

However, it is important to note that some countries may have different laws that allow copyright protection to last longer than 70 years. Any derivative works created from a public domain book are protected under copyright law. Therefore, it is important to understand the laws of the country where you plan to use or publish a book before doing so.


Copyright protection is an important part of protecting the rights of authors and publishers. Knowing how long a copyright lasts and understanding the exceptions to copyright duration is essential for any author or publisher. Copyright registration is one of the best ways to ensure that your book is protected and that you can take advantage of all that copyright law offers.

An international understanding of copyrights and taking steps to protect your book from piracy and plagiarism are important factors in protecting your work. Finally, knowing what happens to the rights of a book after the author dies and when a copyright expires is essential for any author or publisher.


Editorial Staff

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