Copyright Resources

Legal Authority on Copyright

This selection of materials will grow over time as I convert my library to vendor-independent formats.

This segment of the site is divided into four basic sections:

  • Statutes The Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) is the basic document for all copyright issues under US law. Some other statutes also bear on copyright.
  • Legislative history of US copyright statutes includes various Congressional (and other) materials directly related to amendments to the Copyright Act, whether passed or not.
  • Copyright cases are, at present, limited to US law. This segment will expand with several cases each month, in a vendor-independent format.
  • Other authority on copyright includes, or will include, articles, briefs and other court documents, and anything else I find appropriate (including cases not immediately dealing with copyright). Most of this material will be intended for lawyers.

A "vendor-independent format" includes all of the necessary data for pinpoint citations in Blue Book format. It does not, however, include either parallel citations for Supreme Court materials that have been published in United States Reports or vendor-supplied commentary, headnotes, or other copyrightable material. This is consistent with the Hyperlaw case, as the opinions themselves are not copyrightable.

Several of these resources are PDF files. You can download viewers for PDF files either from Adobe itself (Acrobat Reader, current version 7.0.1, January 2005) or the open-source GhostView reader (current version 4.7, March 2005). A few resources are RTF files that should be viewable by virtually any word processing program.

Last Updated: 09 July 2005

Intellectual Property Rights

© 2001–05 C.E. Petit, Esq. All rights reserved.

This notice overrides any alleged copyright or license claimed by any person or entity absent a signed writing that complies with the requirements for transferring the entire copyright. This includes, but is not limited to, translation or other creation of derivative works, use in advertising or other publicity materials without prior written authorization, or any other non-private use that does not qualify as fair use under United States law. Commercial use, publicity or advertising use, or republication in any form will be treated as an infringement absent written authorization.

"AuthorsLawyer" and "" are trademarks and/or servicemarks of the registered owner of this site. Other marks appearing on this site do so with either the permission of the mark's owner or as exemplary reference.

Ritual Disclaimer

This website contains legal commentary, but it is only general commentary. It does not constitute legal advice for your situation. It does not create an attorney-client relationship or any other expectation of confidentiality, nor is it an offer of representation.



Citation Format Size
Copyright Act of 1976 17 U.S.C. ____ (2000) PDF 0.99mb
This is the basic document for all US copyright issues.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act 17 U.S.C. 512 (1998) HTML 33kb
This is the DMCA section concerning Internet service provider liability. The sections concerning encryption and digital rights management are at 17 U.S.C. 1201 et seq., and are best referred to in the complete Act.

Legislative History

Digital Millenium Copyright Act of 1998 H.R. Rep. 105-551 pt. 1
H.R. Rep. 105-551 pt. 2
H.R. Rep. 105-796
S. Rep. 105-190
The DMCA covered two significant aspects: encryption and digital rights management, and limitations on liability for internet service providers. The Senate Report is much closer to the final version of the bill.

Copyright Cases

United States Supreme Court
Campbell aka Skyywalker v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc. 510 U.S. 569 (1994) HTML 73kb
Better known as the "2Live Crew" or "Pretty Woman" case. A commercial parody can qualify as fair use under 17 U.S.C. 107, even when permission for the use was requested and refused.
Eldred v. Ashcroft ___ U.S. ___ (2003) HTML
The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, which extended the copyright terms of both existing and future works by twenty years, is within Congress's constitutional powers. Note: The link is at present offsite to the excellent services of Cornell's Legal Information Institute. The link goes to the syllabus (Reporter of Decisions's summary) in HTML format, and allows one to obtain both PDF and somewhat shaky HTML copies of the various parts of this decision.
Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Telephone Services Co., Inc. 499 U.S. 340 (1991) HTML 55kb
Only original material is eligible for copyright protection. An alphabetical listing, such as the white pages of a telephone directory, does not qualify, because it does not reflect any originality in selection, arrangement, or presentation of factual material.
Feltner v. Columbia Pictures Television, Inc. 523 U.S. 340 (1998) HTML 45kb
Although the Copyright Act does not statutorily provide for a jury trial when statutory damages are at issue, the Seventh Amendment does.
Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc. 510 U.S. 517 (1994) HTML 57kb
The standards for awarding attorney's fees to prevailing litigants apply equally, whether the prevailing party was the plaintiff or defendant at trial.
New York Times, Inc. v. Tasini 533 U.S. 483 (2001) PDF 130kb
A CD-ROM or online database of previously published freelance material does not qualify for the reissue privilege under 17 U.S.C. 201(c), and may constitute an infringement.
Professional Real Estate Investors, Inc. v. Columbia Pictures Television, Inc. 508 U.S. 49 (1993) PDF 214kb
Litigation cannot be characterized as a "sham" (therefore forfeiting the "government petition" privilege under antitrust law) unless it is objectively baseless. In this case, Columbia's copyright infringement suit was not objectively baseless, and therefore did not violate antitrust law through misuse of copyright to unlawfully restrain competition.
Quality King Dist., Inc. v. L'Anza Research Int'l, Inc. 523 U.S. 135 (1998) PDF 153kb
The first sale doctrine (17 U.S.C. 109(a)) applies to imported materials, and prevents a finding of infringement for violation of a US territorial right via importation of materials lawfully obtained outside the US.
United States Circuit Courts of Appeal
Ellison v. America Online, Inc. 357 F.3d 1072 (9th Cir. 2004) PDF 85kb
ISPs must fulfill the requirements of § 512(i) before claiming the safe harbor provided by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, including providing accurate and up-to-date contact information as required by § 512(c). Reverses trial court decision on this point. For more details, see the page on this case.
Fonovisa, Inc., v. Cherry Auction, Inc. 76 F.3d 259 (9th Cir. 1996) HTML 21kb
An operator of a flea market that charges admission fees to independent vendors, but does not specify the exact merchandise sold, may nonetheless be both contributorily and vicariously liable for copyright infringement committed by those vendors.
Worldwide Church of God, Inc., v. Philadelphia Church of God, Inc. 227 F.3d 1110 (9th Cir. 2000) HTML 54kb
A competing church may not claim either fair use or protection under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. 2000bb, for wholesale copying of copyrighted scriptural materials. Extensive discussion of fair use in a "noncommercial" context.
United States District Courts
Ellison v. Robertson et al. 189 F. Supp. 2d 1051 (C.D. Cal. 2002) RTF 86kb
Reversed in part (Ellison v. America Online, Inc.—see above) USENET servers qualify for the safe harbor provided by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for transitory communications, 17 U.S.C.  512(a). For more details, see the page on this case.
Scholastic, Inc. v. Stouffer 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17531 (S.D.N.Y., Sep. 17) HTML 73kb
Nancy Stouffer may not maintain her claims of copyright and trademark infringement concerning "Harry Potter" and "Muggles." Stouffer sanctioned $50,000 for litigation misconduct (fabrication of evidence).

Other Authority

Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 509 U.S. 579 (1993) PDF 171kb
Expert witnesses: The Federal Rules of Evidence (Fed. R. Evid. 702) provide that the judge rules upon admissibility of expert testimony under the standard of whether the testimony, if credited, will assist the trier of fact in resolving the factual matters at issue. Overrules the "general scientific acceptability" test of Frye v. United States, 293 F. 1013 (1923), in federal court. Expert opinion on similarity and on damages is usually required in contested copyright cases.
General Electric, Inc. v. Joiner 522 U.S. 136 (1997) PDF 149kb
Expert witnesses: Admission of expert testimony is under the abuse of discretion standard. Expert opinion on similarity and on damages is usually required in contested copyright cases.
National Treasury E'es Union, United States v. 513 U.S. 454 (1995) HTML 115kb
Speech by government employees: Unconstitutional to restrict government employees (who are not policymakers) from participating in or being compensated for speech unrelated to their official duties.