Bellsouth vs. Donnelley
Burrow-Giles Lithographic Co. v. Sarony
Copyright Code—A Linked Index
Feist Publications vs.
versus Southern Building Code Congress International Inc.,
International v. Meredith Corporation
Trade-Mark Cases, 100
U.S. 82 (1879)
Constitution, Article 1, Section 8
Information on this site cannot
be considered legal advice. If you need legal advice on copyright, please
consult an attorney or refer to one or more of the sponsor links on the
side of the page. Another place you might look is the US Copyright Office
The copyright information on
this site applies to U.S. Copyright, unless otherwise stated.
Here are a few copyright law "facts."
All U.S. works PUBLISHED before 1923 are in the public domain.
Copyright experts estimate that 85% of all U.S. works published
between 1923 and 1963 are now in the public domain.
All facts and ideas are in the public domain.
There are no official "copyright cops." However, there are many
self-appointed ones who fuss about sharing of materials.
Material published before 3/1/89 without a valid copyright notice is
in the public domain. (There are some exceptions to this, but they
are few and far between.)
A compilation of facts is protected by copyright only to the extent
that the selection of the material and the arrangement of the
material is ORIGINAL. (A compilation of ALL of the headstone
inscriptions for a cemetery does not meet the originality
requirement for selection of material.)
Copyright protection in a work does not extend to any pre-existing
The amount of time and effort put into a work has no bearing on the
copyright status of a work.
Copyright protects those portions of a work that are original, that
Works published in other countries are protected in the United
States as though the works were published in the United States.
Copyright protection for a work begins when the work is fixed in
some sort of "tangible form." This included writing, typing to
paper, and saving it on a computer.
A copyright notice is no longer required for protection.
E-mail is copyrighted as soon as it is sent or saved.
There are many erroneous claims on internet web-pages about what is
There is a lot of copyright infringement on the internet.
There is significantly less infringement on genealogical web sites
and mailing lists than some believe primarily because they deal with
fact based material and old material where there is no copyright,
the copyright has lapsed, or the material was published without a
U.S. government works cannot be copyrighted.
U.S. government works may contain material that is copyrighted by
The use of preexisting material in a work does not change the
copyright status of the preexisting material. If it was copyrighted,
it still is. If it was in the public domain, it still is.
Copyright infringement is almost always a civil rather than a
"facts" were written as an exercise to show how "facts" can be
incorporated into an original work. In
this instance, the bare facts about copyright are clothed in a
considerable amount of original expression, which is what is really
protected protected by copyright law.
The arrangement of words used to express the "facts" is original
text created by me as I typed this article. Even though someone else
may sit down to do this same thing and come up with something very
similar on this fact based topic, my original expression was
protected as soon as I saved it.
The material on this page was originally posted to the Copyright-L
mailing list on RootsWeb. Prior to publishing it on this web
page, it was edited somewhat.
Copy Right, Copy
What is Copyright?
My Copyright Infringement
How to Deal With Online Media Pirates
Copyright Fundamentals for Genealogy
My Copyright was Infringed!
What is NOT
protected by copyright?
That Just Ain't So
Civil or Criminal?
Fair Use and the DMCA
Not Everything Protected
Purpose of Copyright
U.S. Government Works
Who Owns the Law?
Work Place Training
About Copy Right, Copy Sense