TUCoPS :: Cyber Law :: claw1.txt

Copyright Law FAQ Part 1

Posted-By: auto-faq 2.4
Archive-name: Copyright-FAQ/part1

Part 1 - Introduction.

Copyright 1993 Terry Carroll
(c) 1993 Terry Carroll

This article is the first in a series of six articles that 
contains frequently asked questions (FAQ) with answers relating to 
copyright law, particularly that of the United States.  It is 
posted to the usenet misc.legal, misc.legal.computing, and 
misc.int-property newsgroups monthly, on or near the 17th of each 
month.  The FAQ maintainer is currently investigating the 
requirements for posting the FAQ in the news.answers and related 

The most current copy of the FAQ is always available for anonymous 
ftp from charon.amdahl.com [], in the directory 
/pub/misc.legal/Copyright-FAQ, filenames part.1 - part.6.

If you do not have direct access to FTP, you can use the FTP mail 
service offered by the DEC Western Research Laboratory to obtain a 
copy by mail [note: I have been unable to get this to work - once 
the FAQ is set up for *.answers, it will be available for email 
transfer by way of the rtfm.mit.edu mail-server].  To do this, 
send an email message to ftpmail@decwrl.dec.com with the following 
commands in the body of your message:

   connect charon.amdahl.com
   get /pub/misc.legal/Copyright-FAQ/part.1
   get /pub/misc.legal/Copyright-FAQ/part.2
   get /pub/misc.legal/Copyright-FAQ/part.3
   get /pub/misc.legal/Copyright-FAQ/part.4
   get /pub/misc.legal/Copyright-FAQ/part.5
   get /pub/misc.legal/Copyright-FAQ/part.6

For further information on the FTPmail service, send an email 
message to ftpmail@decwrl.dec.com with a single command "help" in 
the body of your message.


This article is Copyright 1993 by Terry Carroll.  It may be freely 
redistributed in its entirety provided that this copyright notice 
is not removed.  It may not be sold for profit or incorporated in 
commercial documents without the written permission of the 
copyright holder.  Permission is expressly granted for this 
document to be made available for file transfer from installations 
offering unrestricted anonymous file transfer on the Internet.  
Permission is further granted for this document to be made 
available for file transfer in the Legal Forum and Desktop 
Publishing Forum data libraries of Compuserve Information 
Services.  This article is provided as is without any express or 
implied warranty.  Nothing in this article represents the views of 
Amdahl Corporation, Santa Clara University, or the Santa Clara 
Computer and High Technology Law Journal.

While all information in this article is believed to be correct at 
the time of writing, this article is for educational purposes only 
and does not purport to provide legal advice.  If you require 
legal advice, you should consult with a legal practitioner 
licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.

Terry Carroll, the FAQ-maintainer, is a computer professional, and 
is currently (7/93) a student in his final year at Santa Clara 
University School of Law and Editor-in-Chief of the Santa Clara 
Computer and High Technology Law Journal.

If you have any additions, corrections, or suggestions for 
improvement to this FAQ, please send them to one of the following 
addresses, in order of preference:


I will accept suggestions for questions to be added to the FAQ, 
but please be aware that I will be more receptive to questions 
that are accompanied by answers.  :-)


The following table indicates the contents of each of the parts of 
the FAQ.  Por each part, the last version in which that part was 
updated (excluding the reorganization into six parts done as part 
of V1.1.0) is indicated in parentheses.

  Part 1 (V1.1.0) - Introduction (including full table of
  Part 2 (V1.0.0) - Copyright basics.
  Part 3 (V1.0.0) - Common miscellaneous questions.
  Part 4 (V1.0.0) - International aspects.
  Part 5 (V1.0.2) - Further copyright resources.
  Part 6 (V1.0.0) - Appendix: A note about legal citation form,
                    or, "What's all this '17 U.S.C. 107' and '977
                    F.2d 1510' stuff?"

TABLE OF CONTENTS (for all parts).

Part 1 - Introduction.

Part 2 - Copyright Basics.

2.1) What is a copyright?
2.2) What is "public domain?"
2.3) I just wrote a great program/novel/song/whatever.  How can I
     get a copyright on it?
2.4) How long does a copyright last?  Does it need to be renewed?
2.5) What advantages are there to registering my work with the
     Copyright Office?
2.6) How can I register a copyright with the U.S. Copyright
2.7) What advantages are there to including a copyright notice on
     my work?
2.8) Can I ever use a copyrighted work without permission of the 
     copyright holder, or "What is 'fair use?'"
2.9) Fair use - the legal basis of the doctrine.
2.10) [reserved.]

Part 3 - Common miscellaneous questions.

3.1) Who owns the copyright to something I wrote at work, me or my 
3.2) [reserved.]
3.3) Is copyright infringement a crime, or a civil matter?
3.4) What is the statute of limitation for copyright infringement?
3.5) Can the government be sued for copyright infringement?
3.6) Can the government copyright its works?
3.7) Can I legally make a cassette copy of a musical CD for my own
     use, so I can play it in my car?
3.8) Are Usenet postings and email messages copyrighted?
3.9) Are fonts copyrighted?
3.10) What does "All Rights Reserved" mean?
3.11) What's the difference between a copyright and a patent?
3.12) Why is there so little in this FAQ about patents?
3.13 - 3.18) [reserved.]

Part 4 - International aspects.

4.1) What international treaties exist governing copyright, or
     "What is this Berne Convention I keep hearing about?"
4.2) Is Freedonia a signatory to either the Berne Convention or to
     the Universal Copyright Convention?

Part 5 - Further copyright resources.

5.1) Where can I get more information on copyright?
5.2) What materials related to copyright are available on the

Part 6 - Appendix: A note about legal citation form, or, "What's
         all this '17 U.S.C. 107' and '977 F.2d 1510' stuff?"


This FAQ originally began as a general-purpose FAQ for the Usenet 
misc.legal newsgroup.  After working on that broad FAQ for several 
months, it became apparent that such a FAQ was too monumental a 
task to be undertaken by a single FAQ maintainer.  The person who 
succeeded me in the effort agreed.

I've noticed that copyright questions seem to come up constantly 
on usenet, not only in misc.legal, but in many newsgroups, from 
comp.fonts to rec.classical.music.  It also happens to be my 
favorite area of law, so when I abandoned the misc.legal FAQ, I 
decided to retain the portions dealing with copyright law, and to 
fashion that into a Copyright Law FAQ.  This document is the 

This FAQ betrays its misc.legal origin.  On misc.legal, it's very 
common, and indeed preferred, for assertions of law to be 
accompanied by citations to the relevant legal authorities.  This 
serves as a check against erroneous or misleading interpretations 
of the authorities.  It also allows the reader to verify the 
authorities, and provides an enthusiastic reader with starting 
points for further research into the subject.  In trimming the 
former misc.legal FAQ to discuss only copyright law, I've decided 
to retain these citations.  This is not only for the reasons 
stated above, but also because this FAQ, like any other static 
document, is in danger of being made out of date by future 
developments in the law.  By providing sources for the answers to 
the questions, an inquisitive reader will be able to investigate 
the source and determine, for example, if a particular appellate 
case has been overruled or has been declined to be followed by 
other appellate courts.  I have included an appendix at the end of 
the FAQ to assist newcomers in understanding the legal notation 
used in citing references.


I'd like to acknowledge the following people who reviewed early 
drafts of this FAQ and made valuable suggestions for 
modifications, or otherwise contributed to the FAQ:

  Thomas Deardorff <tdeardor@u.washington.edu>
  Stuart P. Derby <sderby@crick.ssctr.bcm.tmc.edu>
  Mary Jensen <cnicopy@charlie.usd.edu>
  David Lassner <david@oit.hawaii.edu>
  George Mitchell <gmitchel@library.unt.edu>
  Ronald Naylor <rnaylor@umiami.ir.miami.edu>
  Carol Odlum <carol@dreamer.rain.com>
  Laura A. Pitta <lpitta@scuacc.scu.edu>
  Hank Roth <odin@world.std.com>
  Craig A. Summerhill <craig@cni.org>
  Peter Stott <pstott@pearl.tufts.edu>
  David W. Tamkin <dattier@genesis.mcs.com>
  Glenn S. Tenney <tenney@netcom.com>
  Marina ___ [full name unknown] <marlen@sovam.com>


V1.0   (Jul. 12, 1993) - Initial release.
V1.0.1 (Jul. 20, 1993) - Modified Q32 to add information on ftp
                         from charon.amdahl.com
V1.1.0 (Aug. 05, 1993) - Reorganized into six parts; minor
                         editorial  changes.

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