1976 Copyright Act

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1976 Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C § 106 (1992) INTRODUCTION Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, known as the Copyright Clause, empowers the United States Congress: to “secur[e] for limited Times to Authors and Inventors Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” The Copyright Clause is the only clause granting power to Congress for which the means to accomplish its stated purpose are specifically provided. The 1976 revision was undertaken for two primary reasons. First, technological developments and their impact on what might be copyrighted, how works might be copied, and what types of acts are tantamount to an infringement needed to be addressed. Second, the revision coincided with the U.S. intention of becoming a signature member of Berne Convention which goals were provided the basis for mutual recognition of copyright between sovereign nations and promoted the development of international norms in copyright protection (US became a signatory in 1988). Legislators sought to amend than existed copyright law to conform to international copyright law, practices, and policies. The 1976 act preempted all previous copyright laws. The act addressed the following areas: scope and subject matter of works covered, exclusive rights, copyright term, copyright notice and copyright registration, copyright infringement, fair use and defenses and remedies to infringement among others. With this revision, for the first time the fair use and first sale doctrines were codified and copyright was extended to unpublished works. The §106 of 17 U.S.C specifically covers the scope of “exclusive rights in copyrighted works” under the laws of the United States. Though it adequately addresses the scope of what is considered protected copyrighted works, the
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