common-law copyright – a property right that arose when the work was created, rather than when it was published

common-law copyright:

1. A property right that arose when the work was created, rather than when it was published.  *  Under the Copyright Act of 1976, which took effect on January 1, 1978, common-law copyright was largely abolished for works created after the statute’s effective date.  But the statute retained the common law’s recognition that the property right arose when the work was created rather than when it was published.  The common-law copyright still applies in a few areas: notably, a common-law copyright received before January 1, 1978 remains entitled to protection. 17 USCA § 301. – aka right of first publication.


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[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4



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