Must Know International Copyright Act of 1891 Overview

Must Know International Copyright Act of 1891 Overview

Must Know International Copyright Act of 1891 Overview

The International Copyright Act of 1891 was the first act that offered copyright protection in the United States to citizens of countries other than the United States. It was important for American creators too because they were more likely to have international copyright protection in countries that were offered the same protection by the United States. Included in the Act was the price of fees that must be paid to the Library of Congress to register works and receive a copyright seal, instructions for submitting items to the Library of Congress, instructions and deadlines that must be met to successfully receive international copyright protection and penalties for copyright infringement among some other details included in the Act.


Popular authors such as Mark Twain and Louisa May Alcott were fed up with not having any international copyright protection for their work. The Act allowed citizens of foreign nations to mail in their work before it was published. This way the Library of Congress could grant them copyright protection in the United States. Countries that agreed with American policy could choose to enter into an agreement to offer American creators the same protection in their country. Before the Copyright Act was passed in 1891, a collaborator from another country had to be included in a work in order to receive copyright protection in that country.

Content of the Act

The content of the Act includes:

     Fees to be paid by both national and international creators.

     Duration of copyrights including after the death of a creator.

     Rules, instructions and guidelines for national and international creators.

     Protection of copyrighted material.

     Penalties for breaking the laws set forth by the Copyright Act.

     Relationships between countries regarding copyright protection.

International Implications

The work submitted to the Library of Congress had to be completed on American material such as American plates or stones. The work had to be submitted no later than the day of publication either in the foreign country or the United States. The creators home country had to be willing to offer similar copyright protection to American copyright holders that citizens of that country were entitled to or the same protection offered by the United States to foreigners.

If a United States president proclaimed he wanted the United States to extend protection to a certain country, international copyright protection would be granted. Presidents also had the right to remove copyright protection from foreign counties.





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