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Copyright guidance: Audiovisual copyright

Assistance with matters relating to copyright for Edinburgh Napier University staff and students

Audiovisual copyright

How long does copyright last?

  • Photographs = photographer since 1989, or owner of negatives before that
  • Databases = maker, or employer of maker
  • Films = producer and principal director, but there will be separate copyrights in music, screenplay, dialogue etc.
  • Broadcasts = person making broadcast, or employer
  • Sound recordings = normally the producer has the rights to the recording, but performers, composers, and lyric writers may also have rights
  • Multimedia productions = very complicated, could be writers, performers, producers, composers, choreographers etc.
  • Copyright is generally 70 years from the end of the year of death of the creator
  • For sound recordings copyright is now generally 70 years from the end of the year of release.
  • For broadcasts, 50 years from the end of the year in which it is first broadcast (but could be longer depending on the content of the broadcast).
  • The typographical layout of printed works is usually protected for 25 years from the end of the year of publication. This applies to printed music as well.


Some sectors of activity have set up organisations to promote and protect the copyrights of their members, and to collect royalties. These are often the best places to begin an enquiry about copyright permissions.

The CopyCats say....





Copyright can be very complicated when it comes to multimedia content.

There can be different copyrights in sound, text, images, video, typographical layouts.  If you are re-using multimedia material, make sure you have checked it all out!