How copyright protects your work

2. How long copyright lasts

Copyright protection starts as soon as a work is created. Once your copyright has expired, anyone can use or copy your work.

The length of copyright depends on the type of work.

Type of work How long copyright usually lasts
Written, dramatic, musical and artistic work 70 years after the author’s death
Sound and music recording 70 years from when it’s first published
Films 70 years after the death of the director, screenplay author and composer
Broadcasts 50 years from when it’s first broadcast
Layout of published editions of written, dramatic or musical works 25 years from when it’s first published

The length of copyright also depends on how long ago the work was created. Contact the IPO Information Centre if you have a question about the copyright of an older work.

IPO Information Centre information@ipo.gov.uk
Telephone: 0300 300 2000
Fax: 01633 817777
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm
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