The Copyright Act of 1976 was designed to codify 'fair-use' practices related to new copyrights. The application involved consideration of the exact date of an author's death rather than some prior fixed renewal terms and conditions. U.S. Legislation made the Act public law (94-553) on January 1, 1978. It was proposed and set in motion from October 19, 1976.
Prior to the Act, several revisions were made to the copyright statutory law, the last one being in 1909. Careful consideration of the technological advances that had been introduced since led to the formulation of the clauses of this Act by the Congress. Use of television, sound recording, radio, and movies benefited from this agenda.
The fact that the absence of defined standards for intellectual property led to an unscrupulous abuse of the new forms of mass media and communication made it mandatory to consider a related litigation procedure.
In addition to the technological advances, U.S. participation in the Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) generated the necessary spark. Initially, the government machinery was slow and delayed the adoption of the U.S. Copyright Law.
Subsequent years to 1955 witnessed commissioned studies on revision of the existing copyright law. The published report of 1961 earned favor and took the form of a bill in 1964.
Between 1964 and 1976, the Act went through a lot of deliberation and change. Finally, the bill was passed and adopted as law (Title 17 - U.S. Code) on October 19, 1976. It went into effect on the first day of 1978.
The Act was designed as a fair compromise between the publisher and the author. It cleared the air on the issue of payments on the death of the author. It specified that the royalty is to be paid to widows and heirs for a period of 19 years.
Authors' rights are protected for a period of 50 years. The 1976 Act includes scope for investigation via relevant common law and previous laws, if and only if the issue is in conflict with the provisions of the Act.
It also offers copyright protection to original fixed authorship that may be developed to include different perception and communication. This applies to authorships of musical, literary, dramatic works, pantomimes, sculptural and choreographic works, and sound recordings that affect the quality of motion pictures or other visual mediums of communication.
This significant makeover was a refreshing change from the previous federal copyright protection that only offered protection to original work that was published and displayed a copyright certification.
The Copyright Act of 1976, Section 102, specifies copyright protection to original work that is subject to corporeal medium of expression.
It forwards the following exclusive rights to all copyright holders:
- Right to copy or reproduce.
- Right to generate derivatives from the original work.
- Right to lease or sell copies.
- Right to public performances.
- Right to public display.
- Right to digital sound recording.
The Act determines fair use according to:
- Purpose and character.
- Nature of work.
- Extent of original work used.
- Effect on the potential market.
Section 204 specifies the need for the copyright holder to agree to a written conveyance for transfer of copyright ownership. Section 411 specifies the need for formal registration prior to infringement action.