I have a copyright question. I want to use old time radio broadcasts in my comercial movie. These shows are from the 30'a and 40's. I understand that their copyright has expired. May I use these broadcast as I please?
2 Answers from Attorneys
So long as they have not been repurchased and filed for new copyright production, yes, you may use them if the copyright is now in the public domain.
Mickey Mouse was changed just enough so Disney could extend their copyright.
The following may be helpful -- quoted from a U.S. Government source:
"The term of copyright for a particular work depends on several factors, including whether it has been published, and, if so, the date of first publication. As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. For an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. For works first published prior to 1978, the term will vary depending on several factors. To determine the length of copyright protection for a particular work, consult chapter 3 of the Copyright Act (title 17 of the United States Code). More information on the term of copyright can be found in Circular 15a, Duration of Copyright, and Circular 1, Copyright Basics."