Administration and Organization
UCLA Copyright Policy

Copyright Act of 1976

The Copyright Revision Act of 1976 (Public Law 94-553, revising the Copyright Law of the United States, Title 17, U.S. Code, effective January 1, 1978) significantly revised the copyright rules in effect in the U.S. since 1909. The provisions of this law became effective on January 1, 1978, and are codified as Title 17, U.S. Code. Hereinafter the law will be referred to as Title 17. The 1978 law was amended in 1980 to include computer software under the category of literary works (Title 17, Sect. 102) and permit certain modifications of computer software (Title 17, Sect. 117). In October 1998 Congress passed the Bono Copyright Extension Term Act to extend the term of protection for copyrighted works.

Particularly pertinent to libraries are Section 107: Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use; Section 108: Limitations on exclusive rights: Reproduction by libraries and archives and Section 117: Scope of exclusive rights: Use in conjunction with computers and similar information systems, and the guidelines prepared by the National Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyright Work (CONTU) on permissible copying for interlibrary loan purposes. These portions of the law and the guidelines will hereinafter be referred to as Title 17, Sect. 107; Title 17, Sect. 108; Title 17, Sect. 117; and CONTU guidelines.

Two other agreements pertaining to the provisions of the copyright law are of interest to the UCLA community: the Agreement on Guidelines for Classroom Copying in Not-For-Profit Educational Institutions and Guidelines for the Educational Uses of Music.

Duration of Copyright

Published and unpublished works created on or after January 1, 1978:

  • Single authorship: Starting with the moment of creation, lasts for author's life plus 70 years.
  • Joint authorship: Last surviving author's life plus 70 years.
  • Works for hire and anonymous and pseudonymous works: 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter.

Generally, works created before January 1, 1978, are protected for 95 years. For more information on when copyrights expire consult the chart prepared by Professor Laura N. Gassaway, University of North Carolina.

Materials in the public domain (not eligible for copyright):

  • Works published before 1923
  • Federal government publications
  • Facts
  • Other works may be in the public domain, refer to the chart prepared by Professor Laura N. Gassaway, University of North Carolina.

Editions with several dates in the copyright notice:

  • The later material may be protected.
  • The earlier material may be in the public domain.
  • Unless original and revisions are clearly distinguishable, all should be treated as validly copyrighted work.

Foreign copyrights:

Title 17, Sect. 104 specifies that foreign works are subject to protection of the U.S. Copyright Law under the following conditions:

Special note: Foreign copyright regulations are very complex and the duration of copyright can vary significantly. Some authorities advise that it is not safe to assume that a foreign work copyrighted in the last 200 years is in the public domain. Following are some general guidelines which may be of assistance.

Unpublished works are subject to protection without regard to the nationality or domicile of the author.

Published works are subject to protection if:

  • on the date of first publication, one or more of the authors is a national or domiciliary, or under sovereign authority of a foreign nation that is a party to a copyright treaty to which the U.S. is a party;
  • the work is first published in the U.S. or in a foreign nation that, on the date of first publication, is a party to the Universal Copyright Convention; or
  • the work is first published by the United Nations or any of its specialized agencies, or by the Organization of American States; or
  • the work is a Berne Convention work; or
  • the work comes within scope of a Presidential proclamation.

Ownership of Copyright

Initial ownership of copyright generally belongs to the author who in turn has exclusive rights to the reproduction, preparation of derivative works, public distribution, public performance, and public display [Title 17, Sect. 106].

The author may transfer ownership of copyright to others, or may license others to use the work.

Exceptions to the exclusive rights granted to the copyright owner are granted in Title 17, Sect. 107-118#, 202.

Fair Use Factors

Factors which must be considered in determining whether fair use applies include:

  • the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  • the nature of the copyrighted work;
  • the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  • the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.