Summary of United States Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. 101 - 810

  • Under current US law, all creative efforts are copyrighted the moment they are first put on paper, input into a computer, or recorded in any tangible form.
  • While registration or stating that an item is copyrighted could increase the penalties to an infringer and the monetary return to the copyright holder in a civil suit, a copyright notice is not required.
  • Copyright is violated whether a fee is charged or not.
  • Postings to the Internet are not automatically in the public domain, and do not grant permission to do further copying.
  • Copyright exists in civil law and criminal law. Fines could potentially be as much as $100,000 per violation -- see United States Code, title 17, chapter 5, Sec. 504 (c) ... "Statutory Damages".
  • For works created on or after January 1, 1978, the work is protected from the time of creation until 70 years after the death of the author/artist.
  • Under 17 USC 506(b), anyone convicted of digital connected copyright violations can have their computer equipment seized.

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Please note that the information on these pages should be viewed as general guidelines only. If you are the victim of a copyright violation, you need to seek the counsel of an expert in the field -- you can easily find "intellectual property" attorneys at