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Happy 225, US Copyright Law!

Posted by Rebecca Blake on June 02, 2015

The first US federal copyright law was enacted 225 years ago, and the Copyright Office and Copyright Alliance marked the anniversary. The law was signed by George Washington on May 31, 1790, and established the basic principals of copyright law. The Office sent out an email relating the history of the law, noting that it was called “An Act for the encouragement of learning” and protected maps, charts, and books to encourage exploration of the North American continent:

“The first federal copyright law established the principle that authors should have rights to control the use of their works, such as how they are printed, reprinted, published, and sold. It recognized that authors should have meaningful remedies to encourage others to respect these rights and to provide appropriate compensation when those rights are infringed. And it recognized the central role a registration system plays in documenting a public record of creativity, ownership, term, and other legal facts.”

The Copyright Alliance celebrated the anniversary by creating “Copyright is a Conversation,” an online publication that explores the impact of copyright in the key areas of art, expression, creativity, technology, commerce, and identity. Pages for each area include a list of relevant articles and embedded videos. For example, the “Copyright is a Conversation about Art” page includes links to articles such as Blake Morgan’s “Art and Music are Professions Worth Fighting For” and David Newhoff‘s “Copyright Critics Don’t Quite Get Artists,” as well as a touching video by multimedia artist Cat Kaverly discussing her creative response to her fight with cancer.


Copyright Alliance Copyright is a Conversation artwork

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