The Duration of Copyright

AuthorLesley Ellen Harris
ProfessionLawyer, author, and educator
The Duration of Copyright
Be ready when opportunity comes... . Luck is the time when preparation and
opportunity meet.
—Pierre Elliott Trudeau (1919–2000)
A Limited Duration
Unlike physical property, ownership in copyright material has a limited
duration. Whereas you can own your house for an inde nite amount of
time, you can only own the copyright in your book or sculpture for the
period of time stipulated in the Copyright Act.
General Rule for Works
There is a general rule concerning the duration of copyright. The gen-
eral rule applies unless speci c provisions exist in the Act for that type
of work or situation. These speci c provisions are outlined below and
should be read along with the general rule.
General Rule
The Copyright Act provides the general rule for the length of copyright
protection for published works as “the life of the author, the remainder
of the calendar year in which the author dies, and a period of 50 years
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