Publication for Copyright Notice
It is important for you to know that publication is no longer the deciding factor in obtaining a federal copyright.
The works you create do not have to be published first in order to qualify for copyright protection. Publication has a technical meaning in copyright law. According to the statute,
Publication is the distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending.
The offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display constitutes publication.
A public performance or display of a work does not of itself constitute publication.
Generally, publication occurs on the date on which copies of the work are first made available to the public.
U.S. law no longer requires the use of a copyright notice, although it is often beneficial.
Prior law did, however, contain such a requirement, and the use of a notice is still relevant to the copyright status of older works.
This circular describes the copyright notice provisions enacted in the 1976 Copyright Act (title 17, U.S.Code), which took effect January 1, 1978,
and the effect of the 1988 Berne Convention Implementation Act, which amended the law to make the use of a copyright notice optional on copies of works published on and after
March 1, 1989. Specifications for the proper form and placement of the notice are included.
The Internet has become the basic foundational infrastructure for the global movement of data of all kinds. With continued growth at a phenomenal rate, the Internet
has moved from a quiet means of communication among academic and scientific research circles into ubiquity in both the commercial arena and private homes. The Internet is now a major
global data pipeline through which large amounts of intellectual property are moved.
As this pipeline is increasingly used in the mainstream of commerce to sell and deliver creative content
and information across transnational borders, issues of intellectual property protection for the material available on and through the Internet have taken on great importance.
Copyright law provides one of the most important forms of intellectual property protection on the Internet for at least two reasons. First, much of the material that moves in
commerce on the Internet is works of authorship, such as musical works, multimedia works, audiovisual works, movies, software, database information and the like, which are within the
usual subject matter of copyright. Second, because the very nature of an electronic online medium requires that data be copied as it is transmitted through the various nodes of the
network, copyright rights are obviously at issue.
Traditional copyright law was designed to deal primarily with the creation, distribution and sale of protected works in tangible copies.
In a world of tangible distribution, it is generally
easy to know when a copy has been made. The nature of the Internet, however, is such that it is often difficult to know precisely whether a copy of a work has been made and, if so, where it
resides at any given time within the network. As described further below, information is sent through the Internet using a technology known as packet switching, in which data is broken up
into smaller units, or packets, and the packets are sent as discrete units. As these packets pass through the random access memory of each interim computer node on the network, are
copies of the work being made?