When does Beatles copyright expire?

  1. When do copyrights expire in music? Is it after 50 years of the death of the artist?

  2. What happens if a corporation buys the rights to the music? Can they hold the rights to it forever?

  3. For instance, I heard that because DC Comics holds the rights to the Superman characters, the 50-year post-death of the orginal creator is irrelevant. DC Comics own “Lex Luthor” and “Clark Kent” forever. Is the same true for music?

  4. Can you pass the rights to some art to someone else after you die through a will?

This might clear things up a bit:


Currently in the U.S., 75 years. If it’s a collaboration, it’s the death of the last survivor. You have a long wait.

Depends on what rights they buy. Assuming they buy all rights, it still becomes public domain after 75 years.

Superman is trademarked and there is no expiration for a trademark as long as the trademark is used. Songs are copyrighted and do eventually become public domain. It may be possible (though not likely) to trademark a song title or a line from it, but I doubt you could trademark the entire song.

You can pass the rights to anyone at any time. All they need is a document saying so (there is no necessary format – “I give all the rights to <song name> to <person>” would be legally binding). If you die without signing a transfer document, any copyrighter materials become part of your esate. You can include them in your will if you like.