Home Copyright Act of 1976 Your Guide to the Significant Sections of the Copyright Act of 1976

Your Guide to the Significant Sections of the Copyright Act of 1976

Your Guide to the Significant Sections of the Copyright Act of 1976

In the
Copyright Act of 1976, sections can be found which substantially altered the
practices in American copyright law which had been common up until that point.
The first provision considered one of the most significant sections is Section
102, which set out new language intended to replace the archaic language used
in the previous Federal Bill passed in 1909. It also provided the protection of
copyright law to the creators of any “original works of authorship.”

In regard to
the more advanced methods and capacities for disseminating artistic works that
existed in 1976 in comparison to 1909, the language in this section clarified
that any “tangible medium of expression” could be used as a means for
containing a work. These might include works in the musical, literary,
choreographic, visual, dramatic, cinematic, and aural realms. 

Another
clarification contained in this section of the Copyright Act of 1976 was
expressed through the use of the term “fixed” to define how a work of
authorship behaved in its medium, rather than the previously used term
“published,” which allowed certain unregistered works to fall into
the public domain.

The significant sections of the Copyright Act of
1976 governing the rights of creators also include Sections 106, 302, and 408.
The first attempt to clarify the rights of a copyright holder in relation to
how he or she could alone make use of a copyright were addressed here. 

These
functions permissible under copyright law are considered to fall into five
categories, comprising of exclusive privileges toward a work of reproduction,
display, public performance, selling (or other commercial exchanges), and the
production of “derivative” versions.

Section 302
also gained favorable professional and media attention at the time following
the passage of the Copyright Act of 1976 for following up on the suggestions
made by Mark Twain almost a century earlier and hewing more closely to standard
copyright practice of specifying that protection of a work under copyright law
should last for the duration of the creator’s life, plus an additional fifty
years.

Among these
significant sections, Section 408 specified that registration of a work under
copyright law, as provided through the Copyright Office of the Library of
Congress, would not be required for copyrights to apply. Instead, copyright law
would be geared toward helping authors defend their rights against infringement
in courts of law by providing registration as a means for legal verification
admissible in court.

Significant sections of the Copyright Act of 1976
also pertain to the relations between the author and other individuals hoping
to help disseminate the work more widely. Section 204 eliminated inconsistency
in earlier effective means for a copyright holder to transfer rights to another
person.

The last of
the significant sections considered to exist in the Copyright Act of 1976 deals
with the traditional focus in American copyright law on promoting the
production and distribution of new creative works for the benefit as a whole.
Section 107 therefore addressed the ways in which the doctrine of fair use
could be applied to the limited and permissible use of copyrighted material.

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