Curated Collections of the Most Useful Facts.

What's This?
United States Copyright Law

United States Copyright Law

United States copyright law exists to protect the creators of content such as authors and musicians. This cards explains US copyright law and its limitations.


Curated by

Grayson Halstead

Grayson Halstead

6 Knowledge Cards

Views    608

Share     twitter share  

Curated Facts

Though copyright law exists to protect the producers of content, some argue that copyright law is restrictive to the creative process and harms mediums such as the internet which thrive upon sharing and redistributing media. David Post, a professor of law at Temple University, argues that because US copyright law protects so many things - from emails to photographs and more - it hinders outlets such as the internet which would not be able to exist without the freedom to share and distribute information freely.

Article: Post: U.S. Copyright Law ...
Source: University of Virginia La...
Grayson Halstead

Grayson Halstead

6 Knowledge Cards 

In essence, the argument being made my people such as Post is that the current US regulations protecting copyrighted works are too restrictive. Post is arguing that if regulations continue to get more explicit and cover more and more types of content, entities such as the World Wide Web will cease to be what they are today which are mediums designed specifically to make the transimission of information as easy and fast as possible. Post is arguing that with increasingly strict copyright laws, the ease of discovering information that we enjoy today will no longer be possible.


Despite the purpose of US copyright law being to protect the creators of works and publications, there are certain situations where a copyrighted work can be used without the permission of the creator with no threat of legal consequences. These conditions are know as 'fair use.' Fair use conditions include: commenting on the work, criticizing the work, using a work for educational purposes, reporting on a work for news purposes and conducting research on a work or production.

Article: Limitations on exclusive ...
Source: Legal Information Institu...

In 2000, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 went into effect. This act protects internet service providers from being held responsible for acts of copyright infringement conducted by people users of that internet service provider. The DMCA only protects the internet service provider and only protects that provider if it follows the protocol established by the federal government when it is discovered that an internet user has committed copyright infringement.

Article: DMCA Overview
Source: Digital Mellenium Copyrig...

Though the goal of copyright law is always the same, the regulations regarding copyright law in the United States are constantly being updated and changed to apply to new mediums. And example of this is the Digital Rights Millennium Copyright Act which was passed to regulate the use of digital music files from organizations such as Napster and Kazaa where people can access music without buying individual songs or albums.

Article:   United States Copyright L…
Source:  Offline Book/Journal

Though slogans, phrases etc. are not protected by copyright law, they are protected by U.S. trademark law. Trademark law is enforced by both federal and state governments and can extend beyond words and phrases. In some cases, colors and shapes can fall under the protection of trademark law.

Article: Overview of Trademark Law
Source: Overview of Trademark Law

Though United States copyright law is designed to protect the authors and creators of various creations and inventions, there are some things that the law does not protect. Included in the things not protected by the Copyright Act of 1976 and its amendments are: ideas, titles, names, short phrases, slogans, productions that do not have a defined form such as a speech that has not been recorded and items that serve a utilitarian function (such as a chair or piece of clothing).

Article: Works Unprotected by Copy...
Source: BitLaw

The primary statute of the Copyright Act of 1976 is the definition of copyright duration. The Copyright Act of 1976 states that a copyrighted work is protected from the time the work is copyrighted until 70 years after the death of the author(s). Once that time limit has expired, the copyrighted material enters the public domain where it is no longer protected by the US government and can be used by anyone.

Article: Chapter 3: Duration of Co...
Source: Copyright Law of the Unit...

The current set of regulations concerning copyright law in the United States is known as the Copyright Act of 1976. The Copyright Act of 1976 went into law in 1978 and contains definitions of terms associated with copyright law as well as explanations of what is protected under the Copyright Act of 1976 and how the US government will protect copyright holders.

Article: Chapter 1: Subject Matter...
Source: Copyright Law of the Unit...

The United States government defines copyright infringement as, "...when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner."

Article: U.S. Copyright Office - D...
Source: Definitions

Not only does US copyright law protect authors and other creators of content, it also protects their rights to reproduce and share the work as they please. So, if someone is granted a copyright for a production such as a book, then they have the right to determine how he book is published, produced and distributed.

Article: Copyright
Source: Legal Information Institu...