The first copyright law in the United States was called the Copyright Act. In 1790, works were protected for a period of 14 years, and the protection was renewable once if the author is still alive at the end of that term. In fact, the Copyright Act is copied almost verbatim from the Statute of Anne (1710), except that it also covered maps and charts, but not only books. Gradually, copyright terms have been extended and today, thanks to the adoption of the Sonny Bono Act of 1998 by the Congress, works are now protected during the whole life of the author, even if it exceeds 70 years of the author's life time.
[...] The Court argued by underlining the fact that as an individual and a noncommercial use, it served the public interest. In that case, the author's interest happened to be secondary to that of the public. But sometimes, authors have won the copyright battle. For example, the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) of 1998 extended copyright terms by 20 years. This act is also known as the “Sonny Bono because of a famous songwriter (Sony from Sony and Cher) and later, a congressman who absolutely wanted the Congress to adopt this act. [...]
[...] The Walt Disney Company, indeed, was quite involved in the adoption of this act in order to keep on enjoying the benefit of rights protecting several of its characters, including the old Mickey Mouse, susceptible to pass soon into the public domain. Posible bibliography Copyright Law Of The United States Of America by The US Copyright Office (Kindle Edition - Dec 2008) - Kindle Book United States Copyright Law: Digital Millennium Copyright Act, United States Copyright Law in the Performing Arts, United States Patent Law, United States . Copyright Act of 1909, Copyright Act of 1976 by John McBrewster, Frederic P. Miller, and Agnes F. [...]
[...] Step by step, copyright terms have been extended: today, thanks to the adoption of the Sonny Bono Act in 1998 by the Congress, works are now protected during the whole life of the author, plus 70 years. In the United States, each work is automatically protected from its creation. And to be created, a work has just to be produced on a material support. Published or unpublished, finished or unfinished, a work that can be touchable, viewable or listenable on a material support is protected. Indeed, to be covered by the copyright law, authors don't need to register their works. [...]
[...] But how the interest of the public can be privileged if this public is strictly forbidden to use works or media? For example, how the interest of the public can be privileged if a literary or a film critic is not able to base his commentary on strong quotations, on quotations extracted from a protected work? And how the interest of the public can be privileged if a school teacher is not allowed to print a few copies of a poem for his pupils? [...]
[...] That's why at several times, rights holders intended to reclaim reparations. Let's go back in time, and let's focus ourselves on an important trial concerning the protection of works as attached to the commercial situation on material media: the Sony Corporation of America –versus- Universal City Studios trial, also known as Betamax case”. In the 1970's, Sony developed Betamax, a video tape RECORDING format. Universal Studios and the Walt Disney Company were among the film industry members who were getting worried about this new technology. [...]
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