does Copyright on source files expire ?

David Schultz das at FreeBSD.ORG
Wed Mar 25 02:29:24 PDT 2009

On Wed, Mar 25, 2009, Luigi Rizzo wrote:
> Someone just asked me permission to move to a 3-clause BSD
> copyright some piece of software that I haven't touched in 10+ years.
> I said yes, but then I was wondering what happens if the
> person listed is not responding or not reachable anymore:
> does copyright on source code expire, and if so, when ?
> (I suppose it is related to either the date listed on the copyright,
> or to the date of some remarkable event for the author).

In the US, the rule that applies most of the time is that
Copyright expires 70 years after the author dies, although there
are many special cases where the term differs.

A person's Copyright doesn't go away just because they die,
disappear, or fail to respond. If you can't contact them, their
heirs, or whomever they transferred the Copyright to, you're stuck.

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