& Critics"); $this_page_indexes = array (""); $this_page_specials = ""; $h_cats = "h_cat_default.php"; $v_cats = "v_criticisms.php"; $header = "header_default.php"; $footer = "footer_default.php"; if($_POST['here'] != "here") $style = ".yel {background-color: yellow; }"; $index = 0; $creation_date = "0,0,0,6,28,2003"; $update_date = "0,0,0,6,28,2003"; /********* End Customize *********/ include_once FS_BASE . "polls/textfile/poll_cookie.php"; include FS_BASE . TEMPLATE_PATH . "header_footer/" . $header; ?>
First General Revision of U.S. Copyright Law

Enacted by the Twenty-first Congress on February 3, 1831

This series reprints for your examination the actual copyright laws of the United States through 1909. In order to ascertain whether someone back then "stole" or "plagiarized" from others, one has to determine what was considered "stealing" and what was not. While a copyrighted book might be able to be stolen, a book already in the public domain could not be.

A brief discussion and summary follows the law below.

this highlighting, click here" type="submit" value="here">.

AN ACT to amend the several acts respecting copyrights.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That from and after the passing of this act, any person or persons, being a citizen or citizens of the United States, or resident therein, who shall be the author or authors of any book or books, map, chart, or musical composition, which may be now made or composed, and not printed and published, or shall hereafter be made or composed, or who shall invent, design, etch, engrave, work, or cause to be engraved, etched, or worked from his own design, any print or engraving, and the executors, administrators, or legal assigns of such person or persons, shall have the sole right and liberty of printing, reprinting, publishing, and vending such book or books, map, chart, musical composition, print, cut, or engraving, in whole or in part, for the term of twenty-eight years from the time of recording the title thereof, in the manner hereinafter directed.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That if, at the expiration of the aforesaid term of years, such author, inventor, designer, engraver, or any of them, where the work had been originally composed and made by more than one person, be still living, and a citizen or citizens of the United States, or resident therein, or being dead, shall have left a widow, or child, or children, either or all then living, the same exclusive right shall be continued to such author, designer, or engraver, or, if dead, then to such widow and child, or children for the further term of fourteen years: Provided, That the title of the work so secured shall be a second time recorded, and all such other regulations as are herein required in regard to original copyrights, be complied with in respect to such renewed copyright, and that within six months before the expiration of the first term.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That in all cases of renewal of copyright under this act, such author or proprietor shall, within two months from the date of said renewal, cause a copy of the record thereof to be published in one or more of the newspapers printed in the United States, for the space of four weeks.

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That no person shall be entitled to the benefit of this act, unless he shall, before publication, deposit a printed copy of the title of such book, or books, map, chart, musical composition, print, cut, or engraving, in the clerk's office of the district court of the district wherein the author or proprietor shall reside, and the clerk of such court is hereby directed and required to record the same thereof forthwith, in a book to be kept for that purpose, in the words following (giving a copy of the title, under the seal of the court, to the said author or proprietor, whenever he shall require the same:) "District of _________________ to wit: Be it remembered, that on the _________________ day of _________________ anno Domini, _________________ A. B., of the said district, hath deposited in this office the title of a book, (map, chart, or otherwise, as the case may be,) the title of which is in the words following, to wit: (here insert the title;) the right whereof he claims as author (or proprietor as the case may be;) in conformity with an act of Congress, entitled 'An act to amend the several acts respecting copyrights.' C. D., clerk of the district." For which record, the clerk shall be entitled to receive, from the person claiming such right as aforesaid, fifty cents; and the like sum for every copy, under seal, actually given to such person or his assigns. And the author or proprietor of any such book, map, chart, musical composition, print, cut, or engraving, shall, within three months from the publication of said book, map, chart, musical composition, print, cut, or engraving, deliver or cause to be delivered a copy of the same to the clerk of said district. And it shall be the duty of the clerk of each district court, at least once in every year, to transmit a certified list of all such records of copyright, including the titles so recorded, and the dates of record, and also all the several copies of books or other works deposited in his office according to this act, to the Secretary of State, to be preserved in his office.

SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That no person shall be entitled to the benefit of this act, unless he shall give information of copyright being secured, by causing to be inserted, in the several copies of each and every edition published during the term secured on the title-page, or the page immediately following, if it be a book, or, if a map, chart, musical composition, print, cut, or engraving, by causing to be impressed on the face thereof, or if a volume of maps, charts, music, or engravings, upon the title or frontispiece thereof, the following words, viz: "Entered according to act of Congress, in the year _________________, by A. B., in the clerk's office of the district court of _________________," (as the case may be.)

SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That if any other person or persons, from and after the recording the title of any book or books, according to this act, shall, within the term or terms herein limited, print, publish, or import, or cause to be printed, published, or imported, any copy of such book, or books, without the consent of the person legally entitled to the copyright thereof, first had and obtained in writing, signed in the presence of two or more credible witnesses, or shall, knowing the same to be so printed or imported, publish, sell, or expose to sale, or cause to be published, sold, or exposed to sale, any copy of such book without such consent in writing; then such offender shall forfeit every copy of such book to the person legally, at the time, entitled to the copyright thereof; and shall also forfeit and pay fifty cents for every such sheet which may be found in his possession, either printed, or printing, published, imported, or exposed to sale, contrary to the intent of this act, the one moiety thereof to such legal owner of the copyright as aforesaid, and the other to the use of the United States, to be recovered by action of debt in any court having competent jurisdiction thereof.

SEC. 7. And be it further enacted, That, if any person or persons after the recording the title of any print, cut, or engraving, map, chart or musical composition, according to the provisions of this act, shall, within the term or terms limited by this act, engrave, etch, or work, sell, or copy, or cause to be engraved, etched, worked, or sold, or copied, either on the whole, or by varying, adding to, or diminishing the main design with intent to evade the law; or shall print or import for sale, or cause to be printed, or imported for sale, any such map, chart, musical composition, print, cut, or engraving, or any parts thereof, without the consent of the proprietor or proprietors of the copyright thereof, first obtained in writing, signed in the presence of two credible witnesses; or, knowing the same to be so printed or imported without such consent, shall publish, sell, or expose to sale, or in any manner dispose of any such map, chart, musical composition, engraving, cut, or print, without such consent, as aforesaid; then such offender or offenders shall forfeit the plate or plates on which such map, chart, musical composition, engraving, cut, or print, shall be copied, and also all and every sheet thereof so copied or printed as aforesaid, to the proprietor or proprietors of the copyright thereof; and shall further forfeit one dollar for every sheet of such map, chart, musical composition, print, cut, or engraving, which may be found in his or their possession, printed or published, or exposed to sale, contrary to the true intent and meaning of this act; the one moiety thereof to the proprietor or proprietors, and the other moiety to the use of the United States, to be recovered in any court having competent jurisdiction thereof.

SEC. 8. And be it further enacted, That nothing in this act shall be construed to extend to prohibit the importation or vending, printing, or publishing, of any map, chart, book, musical composition, print or engraving, written, composed, or made, by any person not being a citizen of the United States, nor resident within the jurisdiction thereof.

SEC. 9. And be it further enacted, That any person or persons who shall print or publish any manuscript whatever without the consent of the author or legal proprietor first obtained as aforesaid, (if such author or proprietor be a citizen of the United States, or resident therein,) shall be liable to suffer and pay to the author or proprietor, all damages occasioned by such injury, to be recovered by a special action on the case founded upon this act, in any court having cognisance thereof; and the several courts of the United States empowered to grant injunctions to prevent the violation of the rights of authors and inventors, are hereby empowered to grant injunctions, in like manner, according to the principles of equity, to restrain such publication of any manuscript as aforesaid.

SEC. 10. And be it further enacted, That, if any person or persons shall be sued or prosecuted, for any matter, act, or thing done under or by virtue of this act, he or they may plead the general issue and give the special matter in evidence.

SEC. 11. And be it further enacted, That, if any person or persons, from and after the passing of this act, shall print or publish any book, map, chart, musical composition, print, cut, or engraving, not having legally acquired the copyright thereof, and shall insert or impress that the same hath been entered according to act of Congress, or words purporting the same, every person so offending shall forfeit and pay one hundred dollars; one moiety thereof to the person who shall sue for the same, and the other to the use of the United States, to be recovered by action of debt, in any court of record having cognisance thereof.

SEC. 12. And be it further enacted, That, in all recoveries under this act, either for damages, forfeitures, or penalties, full costs shall be allowed thereon, any thing in any former act to the contrary notwithstanding.

SEC. 13. And be it further enacted, That no action or prosecution shall be maintained, in any case of forfeiture or penalty under this act, unless the same shall have been commenced within two years after the cause of action shall have arisen.

SEC. 14. And be it further enacted, That the "Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the times therein mentioned," passed May thirty-first, one thousand seven hundred and ninety, and the act supplementary thereto, passed April twenty-ninth, one thousand eight hundred and two, shall be, and the same are hereby, repealed: saving, always, such rights as may have been obtained in conformity to their provisions.

SEC. 15. And be it further enacted, That all and several the provisions of this act, intended for the protection and security of copyrights, and providing remedies, penalties, and forfeitures, in case of violation thereof, shall be held and construed to extend to the benefit of the legal proprietor or proprietors of each and every copyright heretofore obtained, according to law, during the term thereof, in the same manner as if such copyright had been entered and secured according to the directions of this act.

SEC. 16. And be it further enacted, That, whenever a copyright has been heretofore obtained by an author or authors, inventor, designer, or engraver, of any book, map, chart, print, cut or engraving, or by a proprietor of the same: if such author or authors, or either of them, such inventor, designer, or engraver, be living at the passage of this act, then such author or authors, or the survivor of them, such inventor, engraver, or designer, shall continue to have the same exclusive right to his book, chart, map, print, cut, or engraving, with the benefit of each and all the provisions of this act, for the security thereof, for such additional period of time as will, together with the time which shall have elapsed from the first entry of such copyright, make up the term of twenty-eight years, with the same right to his widow, child, or children, to renew the copyright, at the expiration thereof, as is above provided in relation to copyrights originally secured under this act. And if such author or authors, inventor, designer, or engraver, shall not be living at the passage of this act, then, his or their heirs, executors and administrators, shall be entitled to the like exclusive enjoyment of said copyright, with the benefit of each and all the provisions of this act for the security thereof, for the period of twenty-eight years from the first entry of said copyright, with the like privilege of renewal to the widow, child, or children of author or authors, designer, inventor, or engraver, as is provided in relation to copyrights originally secured under this act: Provided, That this act shall not extend to any copyright heretofore secured, the term of which has already expired.

Differences between this act and the Copyright Act of 1790, as amended in 1802, include:

  1. The term of copyright is now 28 years plus a possible extension of 14 years, rather than 14 years plus a possible renewal of 14 years.
  2. The renewal can be obtained by the widow or children of the author, if the author be deceased.
  3. The reprinting of a portion of a book without permission is now prohibited.
  4. The making of a derivative work without the intent of evading the law is now permissible, if that derivative work involves a variation of the original design.

At this point:

  1. U.S. Copyright Law still explicitly excludes from protection books and pictures written or made or engraved outside the U.S. by non-U.S. citizens.
  2. Since derivative works of books are not mentioned at all, they are still permissible. Thus, the inclusion by another of only some wording, or the publishing of adaptations and translations was entirely ethical and legal.
  3. Those seeking protection for their works are still required to follow certain stipulated procedures.
  4. The statute of limitations is two years.