Home > Copyright, Law > 300th anniversary of copyright

300th anniversary of copyright


The Statute of Anne, the first copyright law, entered into force 300 years ago today, on the 10th April 1710. It established a copyright term of 14 years, which could be renewed for another 14 years if author was still alive when the first term expired (books already in print were granted a copyright term of 21 years).

The Copyright Act 1814 extended the copyright length to 28 years, and if the author was still alive when the term expired, the right of publication could be extended for the rest of the author’s life.

The Copyright Act 1842 extended the copyright term to the life of the author plus 7 years, or 42 years from the first date of publication, whichever was longer. Posthumously published works were provided with a 42 year copyright term.

The Copyright Act 1911 extended the term of copyright to life and fifty years (with certain exceptions).

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 extended the copyright term to seventy years from the death of the author for literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works. If the author is unknown, copyright expires seventy years after the work is first made available to the public. If the work is computer-generated, copyright expires fifty years after the work is made.

In most countries around the world, copyright length is life of the author plus 50 years or life of the author plus 70 years

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  1. Apr 10, 2010 at 21:57

    There’s an interesting correlation between copyright extensions and Mickey Mouse.

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