The copyright changes that were enacted in the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 were long overdue. Prior to the 1976 Act, the last major legislation on the subject was in 1909. In the 67 years that elapsed, many new aspects of copyrighted material had emerged. Since 1909, radio, television, magazines, and online material were not covered by the old statute. U.S. Copyright Law has even been amended a few times since 1976 to address the issue of intellectual property within the framework of copyrighted material.
Intellectual property had not been addressed prior to the adoption of the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976.Intellectual property is considered the inventions or creations within the inventor's mind. It pertains to written word and works of art, as well as symbols, images, and designs that are used in business (logo items, slogans, taglines, etc). Copyrighted material is slightly different than trademarked material. Trademark infringement would occur if someone used material that had been trademarked by another entity. For example, if a business called MacDonald’s used the McDonald’s logo for trade show giveaways, it would be considered trademark infringement.
The 1976 Act addressed intellectual property and deemed that the owners had control, and the Act gave owners protection of the intellectual property if they filed for copyright ownership. The 1976 Act also gave protection owners of intellectual property with regard to literary works, musical pieces, dramatic work, dance routines, images, motion pictures and musical recordings. However, another new and important aspect of the Act was the concept of fair use. To determine fair use, the following four factors are used: the purpose of the information use, the nature of the work that was copyrighted, the cost of the original work, and the effects the work has on the marketplace.
With the fair use provision, the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 covered the emerging technology. This means that artists can now borrow or sample portions of music and use it in new recordings, and that writers can use minimal information from published newspapers, books, and articles and use it for new writings. Plus, with the advent of the Internet, people can use information that they find on the web in new manners in different media. However, all uses must meet the criteria of the fair use factors of the Act.
The U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 also gave time frames for protection of property. Under the provisions of the Act, protection of copyrighted material extends to the life of the author or creator of the material, plus 50 years after his or her death. Previous provisions in the law gave protection for 28 years, plus an extension of another 28 years. The U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 has been an important law that provides important protections against creators' work being misappropriated.
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