Understanding the timeframe of copyright protection

On Behalf of | Oct 5, 2021 | Business and Commercial Law |

Whenever you have an idea that you think may be worth something, it’s important to secure proper copyright protection. While many people understand the concept of copyrighting an idea, far fewer are certain how to obtain this protection or how long it lasts. New York residents who have intellectual property to protect can do themselves a huge service by learning copyright protection’s timeframe.

A copyright license is there to protect any form of tangible intellectual property. Once obtained, the intellectual property’s owner has the exclusive right to create copies of the work, meaning they can take legal actions against parties that reproduce their work without permission.

Within the finer points of copyright law, there are a few elements to keep in mind. One of them is that a copyright license usually offers protection only for a limited amount of time. That specific period of protection varies based on a few factors.

Copyright protection lasts 70 years after author’s death

This is the most common scenario that’s dealt with in copyright and patent disputes. As of 1978, 70 years after the author dies is the standard protection period for an intellectual property that’s been copyrighted. There are, however, a few exceptions based on how the intellectual property was used or sold.

When work is made for hire, which is often the case with independent contractors and small businesses, the term of the copyright is either 95 years after the initial publication or 120 years after its creation. The first of these to expire sets the length of the term.

There’s a different category that usually applies to businesses called a trade secret. This is something that can be protected without a time limit as long as it meets a few qualifications: The owner has to maintain its secrecy, its value must be derived from its secrecy, and it must be commercially available.

Protecting your intellectual property is critical to avoid them being stolen from you. It’s important to know what type of copyright protection you’re eligible for and how long you can enjoy that protection.