Law Dictionary

Copyright Act of 1976

Law 17 U.S.C. § 101 et seq. (1976)

legal Definition of Copyright Act of 1976

replaced prior Copyright Act of 1909, revising extensively U.S. copyright law. This act preempted state common-law copyright, thus completing the coverage of the national copyright system. In addition to other changes, it eliminated the requirement that works to be copyrighted be deposited with the Library of Congress, and it changed the term of copyright from 28 years with a single renewal to the life of the author plus 50 years (with certain exceptions). It also broadened categories of materials that may be copyrighted, stating that copyright subsists in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression. Such works include literary, musical, and dramatic works; pantomimes and choreographic works; pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works; sound recordings and computer software. The Act clarified the conventions of fair use; specified proper copyright notification (usually the symbol © or the word “Copyright”); established the Copyright Royalty Tribunal to oversee cable television and jukebox licensing of copyrighted works, in accordance with royalty rates set by the tribunal; placed limitations on the use of copyrighted works by libraries and educational institutions; and established a mechanism for review of issues pertaining to computer software.

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