According to this link if a work was published in 1969 then the copyright would be for 95 years after publication date.

If the original author has died, is there any method for descendants to modify the copyright, specifically something like releasing the work into the public domain?

Maybe related that would help answer the question would be this - can copyright be transferred to descendants? If it were transferred, e.g., in a will, does the original length of the copyright still apply, just that the ownership would be to the new owners?

  • What do you mean by "modifying" a copyright? It isn't really something that has properties that can be changed. It can just be owned, and that's it. – curiousdannii Feb 20 '16 at 5:09
  • Specifically in this case I wondered if the owners of a long out of print, but still under copyright, work could potentially release said work to the public domain. – Peter Tirrell Feb 20 '16 at 18:49
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    Well it's technically very difficult if not impossible to put a work into the public domain early, but a copyright holder can always release it under something like the CC0 license. – curiousdannii Feb 20 '16 at 23:15

Intellectual property is property and the owner can do all the things that can be done with property including selling it, gifting it and bequeathing it. It can also be licensed; the closest analogue to normal property being renting or lending it except you can license to more than one person at a time.

The current owner can do anything the original owner could do with it.

Transfer of ownership does not affect the duration or status of the rights at all.

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