TUCoPS :: Cyber Law :: claw6.txt

Copyright Law FAQ Part 6

Posted-By: auto-faq 2.4
Archive-name: Copyright-FAQ/part6

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?"

Copyright 1993 Terry Carroll
(c) 1993 Terry Carroll

This article is the last 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.

  Part 1 - Introduction (including full table of contents).
  Part 2 - Copyright basics.
  Part 3 - Common miscellaneous questions.
  Part 4 - International aspects.
  Part 5 - Further copyright resources.
  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?"

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

Citations to legal materials can be intimidating when first 
encountered.  The purpose of this entry is to provide a short 
description of the legal citations used in this article to reduce 
that intimidation.  It's not intended as a be-all and end-all to 
legal research, but just a way of letting you find the sources 
that are cited in this FAQ if you head to a law library.  If you 
don't care about looking up any of the legal materials cited in 
this FAQ, skip this entry.

CASES:  Cases are reported in books called "reporters."  A 
reporter generally consists of a series of bound volumes.  Often 
when the volume number becomes too high, the reporter publisher 
starts over with volume 1, designating the new set as a "second 
series," "third series," etc., as appropriate.

Because copyright is almost entirely a matter of federal law, most 
(if not all) cases referenced in this FAQ are federal cases.  The 
most common reporters (with their abbreviations shown in 
parentheses) are:

United States Reports (U.S.) - This is the official reporter for 
cases from the United States Supreme Court.  This is the standard 
reporter reference provided when referencing a Supreme Court case.  
If a case is especially recent, it may not yet be published in the 
U.S. Reports, in which case, the proper reference is to one of the 
unofficial reporters (either the Supreme Court Reporter or the 
Lawyers' Edition).

The unofficial reporters are also cross-indexed by the U.S. 
Report's volume and page numbers, so that given a citation to a 
case in the U.S. Reports, you should be able to also find it in 
either of the unofficial reporters.  The converse is not true: if, 
for example, you have a citation to the Supreme Court Reporter, 
you will not be able to find the case in the U.S. Reports.  All 
law libraries carry a set of books called Shepard's Citations, 
which will permit you to cross-reference this way.  See your law 
librarian for help using these intimidating-looking books.

Supreme Court Reporter (S.Ct.) - This is an unofficial reporter 
published by West Publishing.  It too reports cases from the 
United States Supreme Court.  The advantages of this reporter is 
that it comes out more quickly than the official reporter, and 
also includes West's headnotes and case summaries.

United States Supreme Court Reporter, Lawyers' Edition (L.Ed.) - 
This is another unofficial reporter, similar to the Supreme Court 
Reporter, but published by the Lawyers Cooperative Publishing Co.  
In addition to the advantages offered by the Supreme Court 
Reporter, it often includes short essays (called annotations) on 
points of law dealt with in a case.

Federal Reporter (F.) - This is an unofficial reporter, published 
by West, that reports cases from the various United States Courts 
of Appeal.  There is no official reporter for these cases, and the 
Federal Reporter de facto fills that role.

Federal Supplement (F.Supp) - This is an unofficial reporter, 
published by West, that reports cases from the various United 
States District Courts (that is, from the courts of "original 
jurisdiction," where trials are originally held and often appealed 
to the higher courts).  There is no official reporter for these 
cases, and the Federal Supplement de facto fills that role.

United States Patent Quarterly (U.S.P.Q.) - This is a topical 
reporting service from the Bureau of National Affairs (BNA).  It 
reports cases from various courts, but because it's a "topical 
reporter," it only reports cases dealing with a certain topic, in 
this case, intellectual property (despite its name, it's not 
limited to patent cases).

This is only a very small subset of the reporters and services 
that report cases.  For a more complete list, see "The Bluebook: A 
Uniform System of Citation, 15th Edition," in particular, tables 
T.1 (United States Jurisdictions), T.2 (Foreign Jurisdictions) and 
T.16 (Services).

The standard way of referencing a case is in the format:

   case-name volume-number reporter [series, if applicable] page-
number (jurisdiction, date)

"Jurisdiction" is omitted for U.S. Supreme Court cases; the fact 
that the reporter is U.S., S.Ct., or L.Ed. is enough to show that 
it's a U.S. Supreme Court case.  If two page numbers are included, 
the first page number is the page on which the case begins, and 
the second is the page that contains the particular point being 
referenced (called a "pinpoint cite" or "jump cite").

Here is an example of a case citation:

   Sega v. Accolade, 977 F.2d 1510, 1520 (9th Cir., 1993).

From this citation, we know that the parties in the case are Sega 
and Accolade; the case is reported in volume 977 (second series) 
of the Federal Reporter; the case begins on page 1510, but the 
particular point being referenced is on page 1520; the case was 
decided in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, in 1993.

STATUTES:  A federal statute is generally enacted as a "public 
law," and is assigned a P.L. number.  This number indicates the 
Congress in which it was enacted, and the law number within the 
Congress.  For example, the Copyright Act of 1976 was the 553rd 
law enacted by the 94th Congress, and so is officially catalogued 
as P.L. 94-553.  If you know the P.L. number of a law, you can 
generally find it in the United States Code Congressional and 
Administrative News (U.S.C.C.A.N.), or in Statutes at Large (see 
below) easily.

Once enacted, Public Laws are catalogued in a official statute 
list called "Statutes At Large."  Citations to Statutes at Large 
("Stat.") are similar to that for cases: volume, service 
identifier, and page number.  For example, the Copyright Act of 
1976 may be cited as 90 Stat 2541, meaning that it is in Statutes 
At Large, volume 90, page 2541.

However, most statutes, as enacted, are not very useful to read.  
They're generally written in a style saying that a prior act is 
amended by adding certain words or phrases, and deleting others.  
Without seeing the context of the modified portion, you really 
can't see what the statute actually does.

This problem is handled by statutory codifications.  In 
particular, most U.S. laws are organized into "titles" of the U.S. 
Code (U.S.C.).  Each title governs a particular area of law.  For 
example, Title 17 deals with copyright law.  These codifications 
are periodically updated by taking the original laws and applying 
the modifications made by subsequent laws so that the result is 
the text of the law as it is in effect today.  In practice, almost 
every citation to law (including the majority of those in this 
FAQ) are to the U.S.C., not to the individual public laws.

A typical citation to the U.S.C. looks like this: 17 U.S.C. 107.  
This is a reference to U.S. Code, Title 17, section 107 (which 
happens to be the fair use provisions of copyright).

While there is an official U.S. Code published by the U.S. 
government, there are two commercially published versions of the 
code, too.  These are West Publishing's U.S. Code Annotated 
(U.S.C.A.) and Lawyers Cooperative Publishing Co.'s U.S. Code 
Service (U.S.C.S.).  In practice, because of the private versions 
are frequently updated, and contain extras such as cross-
references to other statutes, cases, law review articles and other 
resources, they are used far more frequently than the official 

REGULATIONS:  In addition to statutes passed by Congress, law also 
comes in the form of regulations promulgated by the various 
federal agencies.  In the case of copyright, the regulations we're 
most interested in are those promulgated by the Copyright Office.

Regulations become effective by publication of the regulation in 
the Federal Register (Fed. Reg.).  Like statutes, they are then 
periodically codified, in this case in the Code of Federal 
Regulations (C.F.R.).  Usually, regulations are cited to the 
C.F.R. for the same reason that statutes are usually cited to the 
U.S.C.  However, the promulgation documents as published in the 
Federal Register include not only the regulation itself, but 
usually information justifying or explaining the regulation, so 
occasionally the Fed. Reg. citation is used.

Here are some examples of citations to a regulation, in this case, 
to a regulation preventing registration of a copyright in a blank 

45 Fed. Reg. 63297, 63299 (Sep. 24, 1980).   (Federal Register 
volume 45, beginning on page 63297, with a pinpoint cite to page 

37 C.F.R. 202.1(c) (1992).   (the same regulation, as codified in 
the C.F.R.)

TREATIES:  Treaties are compiled in several treaty sources.  If 
the U.S. is a party, the treaty will generally be found in United 
States Treaties and Other International Agreements (U.S.T.) or 
Treaties and Other International Acts Series (T.I.A.S.).  In some 
cases (especially with older treaties signed before the State 
Department took on their publication), they'll be in Statutes at 
Large; in some case (especially with important newer treaties not 
yet published by the State Department), they'll be in the private 
versions of the U.S. Code.

If the U.S. is not a party, the treaty won't be in the above 
sources.  It might be found the United Nations Treaty Series 
(U.N.T.S.) (or the League of Nations Treaty Series (L.N.T.S.) for 
older treaties), the Pan-American Treaty Series (Pan-Am. T.S.) or 
European Treaty Series (Europ. T.S.).

In addition, treaties may be found in many unofficial 
compilations, e.g., International Legal Materials (I.L.M.), Basic 
Documents of International Economic Law (B.D.I.E.L.), Bevans, and 
Kavass (KAV).

This is only a small list of treaty sources.  For more sources, 
see "The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, 15th Edition," in 
particular, table T.4 (Treaty Sources).

Generally, treaties are cited in the standard way: volume number, 
reporter, and page number (e.g., the Berne Convention is 1 
B.D.I.E.L. 715).  A few series (e.g., T.I.A.S. and Europ. T.S.) 
are cited by treaty number within the series, with no volume 
number specified.

The document "Treaties In Force" lists all the treaties to which 
the U.S. is a party, and it lists all the other nations that are 
also a party.  This is a good source to find out if a particular 
nation is a signatory to a particular treaty.

One final note on treaties:  In section 4.1, many citations to 
treaties look like typographical errors: "Art. 6bis" and "Art. 
11ter," for example.  Well, these aren't typos.  "bis," "ter, and 
"quater" are suffixes derived from the French words for "second," 
"third," and "fourth," respectively  These suffixes are used when 
a treaty has already been written, and a revision will insert a 
new article between already existing articles.  This avoids the 
need to renumber the treaty articles, and so provides a 
consistency between multiple revisions of the treaties.  For 
example, Article 6bis of the Berne Convention is an article that 
was inserted between Article 6 and Article 7 when the convention 
text was revised.  (This is also the reason why some 9600 baud 
modems are advertised as supporting the V.32 protocol, while 
others support V.32bis, in case you've ever wondered.)

TUCoPS is optimized to look best in Firefox® on a widescreen monitor (1440x900 or better).
Site design & layout copyright © 1986-2024 AOH