Definition of Copyright Publications

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF PUBLICATION IN THE COPYRIGHT LAW  February 24, 2012 – 12:43 am
filled with publications

by Richard Hanes

In American Visuals Corp. v. Holland (2d Cir. 1956) Judge Frank observed that “[i]t is, however, perfectly clear that the word ‘publication’ does not have the same legal meaning in all contexts. Its copyright definition, for example, differs from its meaning where applied in respect of torts…or in respect of privacy.” He warned that “the term ‘publication’ is clouded by semantic confusion where the term is defined for different purposes, and that we have here an illustration of the one-word-one-meaning-only fallacy.”

The notion of publication was of great significance prior to January 1, 1978, the effective date of the 1976 Copyright Revision Act and during the “decennial” period from January 1, 1978 until March 1, 1989, the effective date of the Berne Convention Implementation Act. Prior to January 1, 1978 a common law copyright existed in the original works of an author or artist and continued indefinitely until publication of the work. The act of publication then triggered the acquisition of a statutory copyright, provided that an appropriate copyright notice was applied to the published work. Failure to include the necessary copyright notice on the published work invalidated the copyright.

The 1976 act abolished the concept of common law copyright and as of March 1, 1989 the copyright notice is no longer necessary to acquire or maintain copyright protection. However, the concept of publication is still very significant to the proper application of the copyright law. Not only will legal consequences under the 1976 Act vary depending upon whether a publication of the work occurred before or after January 1, 1978, the definition of publication may differ depending upon whether the activities said to constitute publication occurred before or after January 1, 1978.

Source: Colorado Legal Blog

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