A Brief Illustrated Chronicle of Retroactive Copyright Term Extension

26 Pages Posted: 28 May 2015 Last revised: 30 Mar 2017

See all articles by Robert Brauneis

Robert Brauneis

George Washington University - Law School

Date Written: May 27, 2015


At least since the Supreme Court’s 2003 decision in Eldred v. Ashcroft, it has been widely known that whenever Congress has extended copyright term, it has done so retroactively, granting the benefit of the extension to all works still under copyright on the effective date of the extension. However, I have never found succinct, complete tables and charts detailing the periods during which works received various copyright terms given the retroactive effect of all extension legislation. It is the modest aim of this article to provide that information, and to provide some examples of the operation of retroactive term extension. The article also makes some general observations. For example, it notes that the last date on which a work obtained federal copyright protection that ended up not having its term of protection extended by later legislation was July 1, 1867.

Keywords: copyright, term of protection, retroactivity, term extension

JEL Classification: K30, K39

Suggested Citation

Brauneis, Robert, A Brief Illustrated Chronicle of Retroactive Copyright Term Extension (May 27, 2015). GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2017-16, GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2017-16, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2611311 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2611311

Robert Brauneis (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States

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