This was the beginning of copyright in the United States. The roots of U.S. copyright can be traced back to the British laws of censorship in the sixteenth century. The British laws were put into place not to reward the author or protect him but to give the publishing companies more control so it is interesting that the U.S. laws, which were designed for the opposite purpose, found their beginning in censorship. The first law of the twentieth century was not well defined and open to interpretation by the judicial community. Also, the law was enacted before new technology such as television, movies, radio etc. were invented. This opened up a whole new set of questions. Congress spent approximately 15 years studying the problem and rewriting the rules. Even after a major overhaul in 1976, amendments were added to answer more questions and keep up with the changing times.
Copyright Law explains the different parts of the law, explains certain terms, and tries to answer any question you may have on the subject. It talks about patents and trademarks. It discusses the difference between Idea and Expression. There are sections on the exclusive rights of the copyright owners. It goes into detail on right of reproduction, right of public display, right of distribution. Chapter 7 is of particular interest to those of us who work in a library as it is all about the Fair Use and other Exemptions from the Exclusive Rights of the Copyright Owners. This tells you what and how much can be copied without violating the law. It talks about other exemptions for education purposes, sound recording performances and many others. Since it is often not clear who can do what, this government document even has a section on who can sue and for what purpose. It is up to the court to decide if the rules were being followed.
Copyright is an area that is ever changing. When new technology is developed, it can take some time before the laws are redone to cover the area. The old definitions might not apply any more and yet, that is all there is to work with until the law catches up. This document is a good resource for anyone interested in learning more about copyright. Its sudoc number is JU 13.2: L 41/2006. It is available for checkout. If you wish to learn more about copyright in addition to this item, http://www.uwplatt.edu/library/copyright will take you to a resource page with several helpful links.