17 U.S. Code § 305 - Duration of copyright: Terminal date
Under section 305, which has its counterpart in the laws of most foreign countries, the term of copyright protection for a work extends through December 31 of the year in which the term would otherwise have expired. This will make the duration of copyright much easier to compute, since it will be enough to determine the year, rather than the exact date, of the event from which the term is based.
Section 305 applies only to “terms of copyright provided by sections 302 through 304,” which are the sections dealing with duration of copyright. It therefore has no effect on the other time periods specified in the bill; and, since they do not involve “terms of copyright,” the periods provided in section 304(c) with respect to termination of grants are not affected by section 305.
The terminal date section would change the duration of subsisting copyrights under section 304 by extending the total terms of protection under subsections (a) and (b) to the end of the 75th year from the date copyright was secured. A copyright subsisting in its first term on the effective date of the act [Jan. 1, 1978] would run through December 31 of the 28th year and would then expire unless renewed. Since all copyright terms under the bill expire on December 31, and since section 304(a) requires that renewal be made “within one year prior to the expiration of the original term of copyright,” the period for renewal registration in all cases will run from December 31 through December 31.
A special situation arises with respect to subsisting copyrights whose first 28-year term expires during the first year after the act comes into effect. As already explained in connection with section 304(b), if a renewal registration for a copyright of this sort is made before the effective date [Jan. 1, 1978], the total term is extended to 75 years without the need for a further renewal registration. But, if renewal has not yet been made when the act becomes effective [Jan. 1, 1978], the period for renewal registration may in some cases be extended. If, as the bill provides, the act becomes effective on January 1, 1978, a copyright that was originally secured on September 1, 1950, could have been renewed by virtue of the present statute between September 1, 1977, and December 31, 1977; if not, it can still be renewed under section 304(a) of the new act between January 1, 1978, and December 31, 1978.