Articles

A Look at legislation that protects you at Craft Shows & Art Festivals.

August 2010
Copyrights, Licensing & Intellectual Property series for Craft Show, Art Fair & Festival Business- Part 1

Legislation to protect artists' rights began in the 1600s when the printing press was discovered. Most Americans arrived from Europe/England and were aware of how the Stationer's Guild had a monopoly on publishing and could censor any work.  The censorship by the government lessened in the 1690s and in 1710 the Statute of Anne was enacted.  The original copyright in the Constitution  of the US was based on the Statute and held the same provisions of fourteen years of copyright; but once the work was purchased, the copyright holder no longer had control over his work.  The copyright law of the Constitution changed some aspects of the Statute.

Here is a look at how the legislation of artists' work has evolved over the centuries in the United States.

1787:  Copyright enacted as part of the Constitution gave inventors and authors limited time for exclusive rights.

1790:  Congress agreed to the copyright provisions to be included in the Constitution.  This revision was An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, but Securing Copies of Maps, Charts, and Books  to the Authors and Proprietors of Such Copies.  This allowed a copyright term of fourteen years with the right to renew for another fourteen years.

1831:  Revision of the Copyright Act.  This extended copyright to twenty-eight years and fourteen more years extension.

1834:  Wheaton vs. Peters.  This case was tried in front of U.S. Supreme Court.  The official Supreme Court reporters, Richard Peters and Henry Wheaton.  Peters, using Wheaten's original reports began publishing "Condensed Reports."  Wheaten sued and Peters argued that Wheaten had not copyrighted his reports, and it was public domain.  The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Peters.  It was a blow to the notion of copyright as a natural right.  It upheld the Constitutionality of time limitation of copyright.

1841:  Folsom vs. Marsh.  Fair Use defined.  Justice Story ruled in a case that when Reverend Charles Upham used a book, "The Writings of President Washington" and copied the letters verbatim in his own the book, "The Life Washington," he was charged with copyright piracy because he had used the letters for his own profit.

1853:  Stowe vs. Thomas.  F.W Thomas, a publisher of a German periodical copied "Uncle Tom's Cabin" into German and sold it in the U.S.  This was a real blow to artists.  Judge Robert Grier of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, upheld Thomas's right to publish and sell the story in German.  Judge Grier wrote that by translating the story into German,  changed the composition of the book.  This was the beginning of authors' fighting for copyright to be property.

1870:  Revision of Copyright Act.  Copyright would no longer be registered in courts but moved to the Library of Congress Copyright Office.
1886:  Berne Convention. This established mutual recognition of  copyright among sovereign nations.  This stopped the need for authors to copyright in all nations.  The revised treaties since 1886.

1891:  International Copyright Treaty.  At this time, the American copyright law only applied to American publications.  European authors could not benefit from the distribution of their works.  It was named the "cheap books " movement.  The books were cheap and flooded the American market.  Publishers, authors, and printers' unions joined together to support the international copyright bill.

1908, Berlin Act set the duration of copyright at the life of the author plus 50 years.

1909:  Revision of the U.S. Copyright Act.  This revision expanded the categories covered by the copyright.  It protected all works of authorship, including music  and protection from twenty-eight years to a renewal of another twenty-eight years.

1928,  Rome Act gave the authors and artists the right to object to modifications in their work which would prejudice or diminish the artists' reputation.

1973:  Williams ad Wilkins Co. v. United States.  Another notable "fair use" litigation was decided.  Williams and Wilkins, publishers of medical journals sued the National Library of Medicine and National Institute of Health for infringement of copyright.  It upholds the right to photocopy a piece of work under "Fair Use."

1976:  Revision of the U.S. Copyright Act.  In the technological age, what works might be copied and infringement rules need to be codified.  The U.S. was going to use the Berne Convention guidelines and needed to update their copyright laws to coincide with the international laws.  This law superceded all other copyright laws.  It covered copyright laws of extension to life of the author plus 50 years.  It spelled out the works covered; exclusive rights; copyright term, copyright notice and copyright registration, copyright infringement, fair use and defenses and remedies to infringement. Copyright was now extended to unpublished works.  The law also provides photocopying without permission for scholarly pursuits.

1976:  Classroom Guidelines.  This is included to illustrate "fair use" provisions for educational purposes.  The guidelines stipulate that what is "fair use" today may not be in the future and what is prohibited from "fair use," may be available in the future.

- CONTU Process.  The National Commission on New Technological Uses of Copyright Works (CONTU) was set up by Congress to determine the guidelines for "fair use" for education as part of the 1976 Revision.  This sets up the number of photocopying  allowed.

1983:  Encyclopedia Britannica Education Corp. vs. Crooks. The Encyclopedia Britannica sued the Board of Cooperative Educational Services for taping educational programs  on Public Service television and making copies for schools in their district. The court ruled that schools could not tape programs.  It would have a detrimental effect on sales of the programs.

1988:  Berne Convention.  This is the year the U.S. becomes a part of the Berne Convention.  The signing gave greater protection for proprietors.  It also brought twenty-four countries into a relationship with copyright.  It eliminated the copyright notice requirement for protection.

1990:  Circulation of Computer Software.  This Act prohibited commercial lending of computer software.  It stated that the libraries must affix to the package "copy of a computer program."  It showed that the program had a copyright.

1991:  Basic Books, Inc. v. Kinko's Graphics Corp.  Kinko photocopied a copyrighted coursepack with book chapters.  Basic Books sued and the court upheld their suit.  They ruled Kinko's had sold it for profit.  This was ruled copyright infringement and not "fair use".

Another case in 1991 concerned copyright protection.  The Feist Publications sued Rural Telephone Service Co., Inc. because the information compiled in the telephone directory was compiled from the Rural Telephone Co.  The Supreme Court ruled that copyright protection had to be based on creative expression or originality. The white pages were just a compilation of facts arranged in a conventional format.

1992:  Amendment 304 of Title 17.  This makes copyright renewal automatic.

1993:  Playboy Enterprises Inc. vs. Frena.  This case is valuable because it shows that ignorance of infringement law is not a defense.  The person is still responsible for statutory damages.

In another 1993 move, the NII (National Information Infrastructure) Initiative was formed to investigate the effectiveness of copyright law.

1994:  Campbell vs. Acuff-Rose Music , Inc.  2 Live Crew were wealthy enough to take the parody of Roy Orbison's "Pretty Woman" to the Supreme Court.  It was ruled "fair use."

1996:  TRIPS Agreement.  Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property.  This amended U.S. copyright laws.  Works from eligible countries had their copyright works restored.

Also in 1996 the Database Protection Legislation was enacted.  Carlos Moorhead introduced the Database Investment and Intellectual Property Antipiracy Act of 1996. It legislates protection of databases for 15 years.

1998:  Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension.  This extended the term of copyright from 50 years after the life of the author to 70 years.  A lot of controversy has arisen from this law.  Creative Commons Licensing as an alternative became active.

1998:  Digital Millenium Copyright Act.  It has four parts to it.  Title I, covers WIPO copyright and Phonograms Treaties Implementation Act.  It covers art performances and phonograms.  The second part covers remedies for copy-prevention.  Title II, Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act, sets up guidelines to protect online providers.  Title III, Computer Maintenance Competition Assurance Act, allows limited, temporary copies of the program when repairing a computer. Title IV, Vessel Hull Design Protection Act, allows protection of boat hull designs. Copyright is difficult for hulls because it cannot be separated from its function.

2005:  Family Entertainment and Copyright Act was enacted on April 27.  It created criminal penalties for people who recorded movies in theaters for profit.  It also included the Family Home Movie Act which exempted DVD players that have the technology to skip objectionable content.

The legislation has changed over the years and will probably change even more as we move into a technological age.

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