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First Page:

Copyright Basics (Circular 1)

U.S. Copyright Office Library of Congress

Copyright Basics September 2000

Copyright Basics

(See Format Note at end of document.)

Table of Contents

What Is Copyright? Who Can Claim Copyright Copyright and National Origin of the Work What Works Are Protected? What Is Not Protected by Copyright? How to Secure Copyright Publication Notice of Copyright Form of Notice for Visually Perceptible Copies Form of Notice for Phonorecords of Sound Recordings Position of Notice Publications Incorporating U.S. Government Works Unpublished Works Omission of Notice and Errors in Notice How Long Copyright Protection Endures Transfer of Copyright Termination of Transfers International Copyright Protection Copyright Registration Registration Procedures Original Registration Special Deposit Requirements Unpublished Collections Effective Date of Registration Corrections and Amplifications of Existing Registrations Mandatory Deposit for Works Published in the United States Use of Mandatory Deposit to Satisfy Registration Requirements Who May File an Application Form? Application Forms Fill in Forms Fees Search of Copyright Office Records For Further Information


Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of "original works of authorship", including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:

To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;

To prepare derivative works based upon the work;

To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;

To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;

To display the copyrighted work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and

In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

In addition, certain authors of works of visual art have the rights of attribution and integrity as described in Title 17, Chap 1, Section 106a (Circular 92) of the 1976 Copyright Act. For further information, request "Copyright Registration for Works of the Visual Arts" [].

It is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights provided by the copyright law to the owner of copyright. These rights, however, are not unlimited in scope. Title 17, Chap 1 of the 1976 Copyright Act establish limitations on these rights. In some cases, these limitations are specified exemptions from copyright liability. One major limitation is the doctrine of "fair use", which is given a statutory basis in Title 17, Chap1, Section 107 of the 1976 Copyright Act. In other instances, the limitation takes the form of a "compulsory license" under which certain limited uses of copyrighted works are permitted upon payment of specified royalties and compliance with statutory conditions. For further information about the limitations of any of these rights, consult the copyright law or write to the Copyright Office... Continue reading book >>

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