May 31, 2007

Article by Hal Varian in the New York Times

From the New York Times Business Section, May 31, 2007

Copyrights That No One Knows About Don’t Help Anyone
By Hal Varian
May 31, 2007

Here’s a quiz question for authors: To copyright a written work in the United States, you must (a) register it with the Copyright Office; (b) insert a notice that says “Copyright © 2007”; (c) insert a notice that says “All rights reserved.”

Answer: none of the above. Under current law, a work is automatically copyrighted the moment it is “fixed in tangible form.” And these days, that copyright lasts virtually forever: 70 years after the death of the author, in most cases.

Since there is no requirement to register a work and a copyright lasts so long, the legal owner of a work can be difficult to find, particularly when the work is more than a few decades old.


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October 4, 2016