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Length of copyright

How long does copyright last?

Currently, under Australian law, if the creator of the copyright item has been dead for more than 70 years and the item was published within their lifetime, the work generally passes into the public domain (i.e. life plus 70 years). If the work was not published in their lifetime, the copyright period commences from the date of publication.

NOTE: Changes were made to the duration of copyright due to the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA). As a result of the AUSFTA, the period of protection was extended from 50 years to 70 years for material that was still under copyright as at 1st January 2005. Copyright was not revived in works where copyright had already expired. If you have any queries, contact the Copyright Office.

Copyright in a work cannot be revived once it has lapsed, regardless of copyright ownership. It should be remembered, however, that copyright laws differ between countries, and what may be out of copyright (or in the public domain) in Australia may still be covered by copyright provisions in other countries.

Also be aware that that other rights may exist in the form of published editions, translations, adaptations of works, and new recordings or arrangements of musical works. Please contact the Copyright Officer if you are unsure of the status of the material you wish to use.

TYPE OF MATERIALCOPYRIGHT HAS EXPIRED IFOTHERWISE DURATION IS
Literary, dramatic and musical works published, performed or broadcast during the author's lifetimeCreator died before 1 January 1955 or, for works NOT made public during the creator's lifetime, the work was made public before 1 January 1955Life of the creator, plus 70 years from the end of the year of the creator's death. Or, for works NOT made public during the creators lifetime, 70 years from the time first made public
Artistic works (other than photographs and engravings unpublished in the author's lifetime)Creator died before 1 January 1955
EngravingsFirst published before 1 January 1955, or, if published during the engraver's lifetime, the engraver died before 1 January 1955Life of the engraver, plus 70 years from the end of the year of the engraver's death. Or, for works NOT made public during the engraver's lifetime, 70 years after the end of the year first made public
Literary, dramatic and music works not published, performed or broadcast during the author's lifetimeMade public before 1 January 195570 years after the end of the year of first publication, performance or broadcast
Works or photos first published anonymously or under a pseudonymFirst published or taken before 1 January 195570 years from the end of the year first published
Photographs taken before May 1969Taken before 1 January 1955 70 years from the end of the year of the author's death
Photographs from May 1969None out of copyright
Sound recordingsMade before 1 January 1955 70 years from the end of the year first published
Cinematograph films made after 1 May 1969 70 years from the end of the year of the year first published
Television and sound broadcastsBroadcasts made prior to 1 May 1969 are not protected50 years from end of the year of first broadcast
Literary, dramatic and musical works and engravings made for, or first published by, a government, or in which copyright is owned by a government 50 years from the end of the year first published
Artistic works (except photographs and engravings) made for, or first published by, a government, or in which copyright is owned by a government
Photographs and engravings made for, or first published, by a government, or in which copyright is owned by a government

50 years from year first made, or, if made on or after 1 May 1969, year first published plus 50 years
Performances 25 years from performance
Typographical arrangement of a work in a published edition 25 years from publication
Overseas material The period which applies in the country where the work was made or first published