Can I write a screenplay based upon
a 1925 autobiography without
paying royalties to a company, or do
I have to get the rights to the story
from the company that last
published her autobiography?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Re: Autobiography Copyright
Under the law in effect before 1978, copyright was secured either on the date a work was published or on the date of registration if the work was registered in unpublished form. In either case, the copyright lasted for a first term of 28 years from the date it was secured. The copyright was eligible for renewal during the last (28th) year of the first term. If renewed, the copyright was extended for a second term of 28 years.1 If not renewed, the copyright expired at the end of the first 28-year term. The term of copyright for works published with a year date in the notice that is earlier than the actual date of publication is computed from the year date in the copyright notice.