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U.S. copyright laws

Overview:

The United States Congress is empowered by Art. I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution to promote artistic progress by securing authors an exclusive property right in their writings. In 1976, Congress enacted a single federal system of copyright protection.

Notes on Recent Legislation:
    The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act extends the duration of copyrights. Most significantly, it extends the copyright term in a work created on or after January 1, 1978, to the life of the author and 70 years after the author's death. More information from the Library of Congress.

    The Family and Entertainment Copyright Act is a recent legislative effort to criminalize the unauthorized recording of a motion picture in a movie theater. More information from the Library of Congress.

    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act authorizes educational publishers to create and distribute special brail, audio and digital formats of their print publications in certain circumstances. More information from the Library of Congress.

    The Copyright Royalty and Distribution Reform Act reforms the process for resolving certain royalty disputes. More information from the Library of Congress.

    The Intellectual Property Protection and Courts Amendments Act increases sanctions for use of fraudulent online identity in connection with copyright infringement and expands range of products on which it is a crime to affix counterfeit label. More information from the Library of Congress.






Statutory Reference:
    The primary statutory reference for copyright law is The Copright Act (U.S. Code, Title 17). In the chapters of this volume, you'll find references to specific statutes. You can find the Copyright Act at these locations:


Illustrative Cases:
    Eldred v. Ashcroft (U.S. 2003) (Read Opinion - Findlaw) (Listen to Oral Arguments - Oyez)
    In case considering Congressional authority in copyright area, the Court holds that 1998 Copyright Term Extension Act does not exceed Congress's power under the Copyright Clause or violate the First Amendment.