Archival and unpublished works

Copyright rules apply differently to archival and unpublished works. This is due to several factors:

  • There were three copyright acts in the UK throughout the 20th century. Depending on the date of the work, along with other factors, the extent of copyright protection may be different.
  • Unpublished works can be more personal, such as letters and diaries, or of a sensitive nature.
  • There is extra protection in place for works where a rightsholder, i.e. the creator or their descendents, cannot be traced.

The information on these pages will guide you through the best ways to reuse and clear older and unpublished material.

Conversely, older works are increasingly likely to be out of copyright protection, and we will show how you can determine this for different types of material.

The public domain Orphan works Anonymous works