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The Graduate Health & Life Sciences Research Library at Georgetown University Medical Center

Copyright Protection - Managing Creator Rights

Global Copyright Duration Information

While copyright duration currently lasts from life of author plus seventy in the United States, this is not universal. In many countries around the world, the duration is life plus fifty. This life-plus-fifty duration minimum is set out in the Berne Convention, explained in greater detail below.  This means that while a work might fall into the public domain on the 71st year after the author's death in the U.S., it has been in the public domain for about twenty years in those countries who recognize life-plus-fifty. 

Berne Convention

The Berne Convention is the global leading copyright convention and is a part of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). 

There are about almost 200 member countries. A country that wishes to be a part of the Berne Convention needs to meet some minimum requirements such as : 

  1. Minimum Copyright duration of Life-plus-fifty
  2. Have automatic protection 
  3. National Treatment-where a copyright owner from another member country is afforded the same copyright protection as a copyright owner from that country
  4. Minimal moral rights-at the very least rights of paternity and integrity

Other WIPO Administered Treaties


The purpose of this guide is to provide resources and information for resolving copyright questions. This research guide does not supply legal advice nor is it intended to replace the advice of legal counsel.