Time Limitation of Copyright


Copyright in Austria is not transferable inter vivos. It cannot be sold as a whole or in part, nor transferred or assigned, but is held by the creator until he or she dies. Subsequently it passes to the heirs.

Copyright is not an indefinite right. There are terms of protection. Once they expire, the work becomes free and available to the public. Anyone can adapt or exploit it as they wish.

The terms of protection have been largely harmonised within the EU. Copyright is subject to a term of 70 years from the death of the author. Starting from the 1st day of the year to follow, the work belongs to the public domain.

Regarding works of joint authorship, the term is triggered by the death of the last joint author. This rule also applies to combined works of music.

Example

Death of the author: 17 March 1947 / Term of protection ends on: 31 December 2017

For anonymous or pseudonymous works, the 70-year term of protection starts with the creation of the work, not the death of the author who is unknown. This term starts again from the time of publication or release if it is effected within the term of protection.

Example

Creation of the work: 18 November 1960 / Provisional term of protection: 31 December 2030

Publication: 23 June 1984 / Final term of protection: 31 December 2054