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How long copyright lasts in the UK

Copyright generally lasts for the artist or creator’s lifetime plus 70 years after their death. There are some exceptions, including engravings unpublished at the time of the artist or creator’s death.

For typographical arrangements (presentation or layout) of books, magazines, journals and other published print, copyright lasts for 25 years from the end of the year the edition was first published.

Learn more about copyright duration and exceptions on GOV.UK

UK overseas territories

In UK overseas territories, general copyright protection periods may be shorter. However, it is not usually less than the life of the artist plus 50 years.

Information about UK overseas territories on the Parliament website

Outside the UK

Around the world, the copyright protection granted to artists is different from country to country and depends on national legislation. Again, it is not usually less than the life of the artist plus 50 years.

Copyright when you die

You can leave your copyright to whomever you wish. It could be to one person, a group of people, or a company, organisation, or institution, like a gallery or museum.

Multiple works

If you own copyright for more than one work, you can leave the copyright in different works to different people or organisations. Or you can specify a percentage share of the copyright for all your work to different named individuals and/or organisations.

No Will

If you do not leave a Will saying who will receive your copyright when you die, your estate is considered intestate and becomes subject to the English Rules of Intestacy. Seek specialist advice on drafting a Will from a solicitor.


The content of this article is not intended to be applied to individual circumstances. It is not legal advice, and is not a substitute for independent legal advice.

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