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Be Aware of the Societal Implications of the 1976 Copyright Act

Copyright Act Of 1976

The societal implications stemming from the passage of the Copyright Act of 1976 into law extend to the terms and period of time under which creators and other copyright holders may profit from their copyright holdings, the privileges given to other individuals or groups involved in distributing the creations of other people, and the ability of the public to gain limited use to the creations of other people without requiring their full permission or incurring the possibility of legal action. If you need legal advice and assistance, contact copyright lawyers.

The law was intended to bring Federal statutes up to date in a more technologically sophisticated world than the one which, in 1909, had seen the last Federal overhaul of copyright law. Under this change in copyright law, works existing in a wide variety of media could be subject to the protection of copyright law.

The societal implications for the Copyright Act of 1976 in this way proceeded from the new language of a "tangible medium of expression" and "original works of authorship" being acceptable subjects for protection under Federal copyright law.

The societal implications for the Copyright Act of 1976 created attention among professionals involved in the field, though not substantially from major media outlets. The Library of Congress's Register of Copyrights, Barbara Ringer, spoke of the newly revised copyright law as being both "a balanced compromise" and an Act that consistently came down on "the authors' and creators' side."

In making this and similar assertions, copyright law observers pointed to the newly lengthened periods for copyright law protection to be granted to rights holders under the Copyright Act of 1976, which would comprise the entire period of an author's life and include another fifty years. The fees which the heirs of late authors, such as widows, would be liable to receive were guaranteed under the Copyright Act of 1976 to continue for periods of nineteen years.

A contentious area in the societal implications of the Copyright Act of 1976 has been raised in regards to the provisions made for granting copyrights to persons other than those originally responsible for creating or commissioning them. An area of industry concerned with copyright law which has the potential to be heavily affected by it is the music industry, which is largely dependent on the licensing of copyrights from the original authors.

Under the Copyright Act of 1976, the agreements under which copyrights were sold before 1978, when the copyright law went into effect, could be "terminated" by the original creator after a period of fifty-six years. Those sold in or after 1978 are addressed by Section 203 of the Copyright Act of 1976, which allows a period of thirty-five years from the execution of the grant before it is terminated.

The fair use doctrine addressed by the Copyright Act of 1976 also had substantial societal implications for the world of copyright law. Musical recordings made using limited samples of sound from other copyrighted works could thus be permissibly made if within reasonable means. Other areas affected by this copyright law include journalism and academia.

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