Monday 7 September 2020

150th Anniversary of the US Copyright Office

The latest edition of the Library of Congress Magazine is a celebration of 150 years of the U.S. Copyright Office or "150 years of promoting creativity and free expression through the administration of the nation’s copyright laws." Since it's founding, Congress has passed two major revisions of copyright law: the Copyright Act of 1909 (President Theodore Roosevelt) and the Copyright Act of 1976 (President Gerald Ford). The magazine goes on to say that "The 1976 act is still in effect today, with several amendments, including the landmark Orrin G. Hatch–Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act of 2018."
Articles in this issue of the LOC Magazine have some great historic images: early workers in the Copyright Office; the copyright submission from French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi registered his “Statue of American Independence” (aka the Statue of Liberty) on Aug. 31, 1876; blues singer Bessie Smith's submission for copyright for the song "Wasted Life Blues;" and many others. The magazine says.

"Copyright deposits capture milestones, even if they aren’t recognized as such until years later. The Copyright Office holds the unpublished deposit for a 1980 “Star Wars” Christmas album that marks the recording debut of Jon Bon Jovi, who sang lead vocals on “R2-D2 We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” (Sample lyric: “If the snow becomes too deep, just give a little beep. We’ll go there by the fire and warm your little wires.”) They reveal new dimensions to famous folks — an unpublished composition by a 14-year-old Aaron Copland, for example, or unpublished plays written by Tennessee Williams and Zora Neale Hurston. The Manuscript Division holds 13 such plays by Mae West, the actress and sex symbol whose ability to impart suggestive meaning to any line onscreen is immediately apparent in her writings, too."

There is a treasure trove of information and stories about copyright in the United States in this edition of the LOC magazine.  

hat tip: Pat Roncevich 

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