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Home > Using Copyright > Required Information > Determine Copyright Status

Determine Copyright Status

The date of publication (or creation) is essential in determining whether or not any copyright in a work is still in effect. To make this determination you will need:

  • Date of publication
  • Date of creation, for an unpublished work.

Look for Copyright Notice:
Most published works contain a copyright notice that indicates the date the work was first published, so look for this information on the first page of a web site or the title page of a book or journal. If you can't locate a copyright notice or don't know the exact date of creation or publication, see if you can estimate the approximate date. For example, you may be able to determine that a photograph is likely from the 1930's from the subject matter depicted in the photograph.

Finding copyright status
The term of copyright protection has changed over the years and determining whether a work is still protected by copyright can be a bit of a challenge. Currently, any work created today is protected for at least 70 years.

Chart Identifies Copyright Term
Professor Lolly Gasaway, from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill has prepared the following chart to help determine whether or not copyright has expired in a work. Reprinted here with permission (Original can be found on the UNC website).

View chart here


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