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What is the Durationator?


The Durationator is a computer system that, given a few basic facts about a work, mechanically applies the laws of the countries selected to those facts to determine the copyright status of the work. The Durationator does not exercise any judgment or discretion. In effect, the Durationator merges the data provided by the user with the laws related to the countries chosen, in a manner similar to a mail merge program.

Does the Durationator provide legal advice?


No. The Durationator does not provide legal advice, and Limited Times, LLC, is not a law firm. Neither is a substitute for the counsel of an experienced attorney. If you do not have an attorney, we can provide you a list of attorneys experienced in copyright law.

How does the Durationator work?


The Durationator is an interactive, cloud-based software tool that interactively accepts input of basic information about a work, mechanically applies the copyright laws of the countries selected, and then produces a report as to the work's copyright status. You can think of it like TurboTax®*: You move through screens entering data, the system applies a lot of rules, and at the end your tax return pops out—but with the Durationator what pops out is a report about the copyright status of the work. In effect, the Durationator merges the data provided by the user with the laws related to the countries chosen, just as TurboTax merges the data you enter with tax laws and forms.

Today, you access the Durationator by requesting reports that are run by Limited Times staff. We are working toward being able to open the system up to end users on a subscription basis, so users who regularly need reports can run them whenever they want.

*TurboTax is a registered trademark and service mark of Intuit Inc.



Limited Times is not a law firm, and the Durationator® system is not an attorney. (It's not even human, after all.) Neither Limited Times nor the Durationator provides the legal advice of an attorney. Limited Times encourages you to hire an attorney to interpret and discuss your Durationator research results.


Why would an attorney use the Durationator service?


The Durationator is designed to assist lawyers who have clients with copyright problems. It provides legal information for attorneys to interpret for their clients. Basically, a Durationator Report is like a research memo from the best copyright paralegal in the world. We can tell you what laws apply and what they indicate about the copyright status of a work, but it takes a lawyer interpreting the law to fully understand the copyright status and how it affects a client's choice of actions.

How was the Durationator created?

The Durationator was built by law professors and law students seeking to organize legal research in a more accessible form for self-help. The original Durationator research took place at Tulane University Law School between 2007 and 2014. Dr. Townsend Gard and 70 law students dedicated themselves day and night to researching the copyright laws of every country in the world—both current law and historical law. Dr. Townsend Gard’s copyright classes also contributed by focusing work on pre-1972 sound recordings, fair use, and orphan works. 

What happens if there is a conflict or uncertainty in the law?

Human judgment is made by you and your attorney, not by the Durationator system. The Durationator just provides information about the law, and when there is a conflict or uncertainty in the law, the Durationator provides information about the conflict or uncertainty. Interpreting how this uncertainty applies to your case remains a matter for your attorney. 


Why should I hire an attorney?

Copyright can be complicated. A Durationator report merely gives you information about what laws apply to a work. You need someone to help you interpret the law and make decisions about what action to take. You need someone with expertise who can assess your situation and help guide your decisions. If you do not have an attorney, we can provide you a list of attorneys and experts experienced in copyright law. (We have no legal or financial incentive to suggest these experts; we just compiled the list to help people out.)


How is Limited Times, LLC, and the Durationator connected to Tulane University?

The Durationator was born at Tulane and has been financially supported by Tulane University since 2007. Limited Times holds the license for the Durationator technology from Tulane University. Limited Times is a closely held Louisiana LL.C., with Dr. Gard and Dr. Townsend Gard as the majority members, with Tulane University also having an ownership interest. 


Is the Durationator protected by intellectual property laws?

Yes. The system is protected by intellectual property laws in the U.S. and abroad. (Come on. Intellectual property is what we do.)

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