What is the current copyright law?

Works created on or after January 1, 1978 are protected for an author's lifetime plus 70 years. If you are a corporate author, protection is for a period of less than 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation. Works created and published before 1978 can be protected for different periods of time. The public domain also includes most of the works created by the United States government.

For example, census reports, which are compiled and published by the United States government, are in the public domain. All public domain works are free to use by the public. Showing a work means showing a copy of it, either directly or by means of a film slide, television image or any other device or process or, in the case of a film or other audiovisual work, to show individual images in a non-sequential manner. Making a work means reciting it, rendering it, playing it, dancing or acting it, either directly or through any device or process, or, in the case of a film or other audiovisual work, showing images in any sequence or making the sounds that accompany it audible.

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