Literary works


Literary works includes books, anthologies, journal and newspaper articles, reports, conference papers, working papers, computer software and programs, letters, emails, novels, poetry, song lyrics, databases, tables and compilations. Even short works such as abstracts, individual poems, dictionary meanings or encyclopaedia entries are protected by copyright.

Using literary works

You can use a dramatic work for certain purposes such as educational use, research or study or criticism or review. For more information, see:

You must properly acknowledge any literary work that you use.


Copyright in literary works is generally owned by the creator or author but it can vary depending on factors such as employment or licensing agreements - see ownership of copyright for more information.

Rights of copyright owners

Copyright owners of literary works hold the right to reproduce, publish, publicly perform, communicate or adapt their works. For more information see rights of copyright owners.

Duration of copyright

Literary works

Published or made publicly available during the author's lifetime Published or made publicly available after the author's death Unpublished works Created anonymously or under a pseudonym Copyright expired if...
Life of the author + 70 years. 70 years from the end of the year first published or made publicly available. As of 1 January 2019, the duration of copyright will be the same for both published and unpublished works. 70 years from the end of the year the work was first published or made publicly available. Author died before 1 January 1955 and the work was published during the author's lifetime.

Copyright in literary works made for, or first published by a government, or in which copyright is owned by a government, lasts for 50 years from the end of the year of first publication.

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