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It depends on the form of the original work and the year in which it was created, relative to the rights holder’s (s’) death.

Generally the advice is it that for literary, musical or artistic works copyright covers the lifetime of the author plus 70 years since their death. If there are multiple authors then the latest date applies.

Films are protected for 70 years after the death of the last to die of the director, author of the screenplay/dialogue or composer of the soundtrack.

Sound recordings are protected for 70 years from the year of publication (release). If they have not been released or publicly performed they are protected for 50 years from the end of the year in which they were made.

The copyright of a broadcast lasts for 50 years from the first broadcast.

The copyright of typography of a published work lasts for 25 years. Therefore a recent publication of an old work may appear to be out of copyright but the copyright to the typography could still exist.

Over time, legislation has altered for how long copyright lasts. For advice on the duration of copyright of older works contact the Intellectual Property Office.

Once copyright has expired, anyone can use or copy the work.

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