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2. How long does copyright last?

The basic rule is that copyright lasts for the life span of the author plus 50 years. This applies to literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works (note: you may go to the previous page to obtain the examples of these works ). Specifically, the copyright will expire on the 31 st of December in the last calendar year of the protection period. Thus if a book was created on 1 April 1926 and the author died on 15 July 1973 , the copyright of the book will expire on 31 December 2023 .


The Copyright periods for other categories of work differ in duration. The following table summarises the duration of protection for each category of work (see sections 17-21 of the Copyright Ordinance).


Category of Work

Duration of Protection

Literary Works

Life of author + 50 years

Dramatic Works

Life of author + 50 years

Musical Works

Life of author + 50 years

Artistic Works

Life of author + 50 years

Sound Recordings

50 years from making; but if the sound recording was released during this period, copyright will expire 50 years from such release.


Life of the last survivor of certain designated persons (principal director, author of the screenplay, author of the dialogue or composer of music for the film) + 50 years


50 years from first broadcast

Cable Programmes

50 years from first inclusion in a cable programme service

Typographical arrangements of published editions

25 years from first publication