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Copyright Definitions

Berne Convention- An international treaty that offers copyright protection to foreign works under certain conditions, formally called the "Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, signed at Berne, Switzerland, on September 9, 1886, and all acts, protocols, and revisions thereto." The United States acceded to the Berne Convention effective March 1, 1989.

Certificate of Registration - An official paper denoting that a particular copyright has been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. Provided the claim is registered within 5 years of the date on which the work is first published, the facts on a certificate of registration and the validity of the copyright are accepted by courts of law as self-evident unless later shown to be false.

Copy - The material object, other than a phonorecord, in which the copyrighted work is first fixed, and from which the work can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

Copyright - A form of protection provided by the laws of the United States for "original works of authorship" including literary, dramatic, musical, architectural, cartographic, choreographic, pantomimic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, and audiovisual creations. "Copyright" literally means the right to copy, but has come to mean that body of exclusive rights granted by law to copyright owners for protection of their work. Copyright protection does not extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, title, principle, or discovery. Similarly, names, titles, short phrases, slogans, familiar symbols, mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, coloring, and listings of contents or ingredients are not subject to copyright.

Copyright Notice - The copyright notice consists of three elements. They are the "c" in a circle (©), the year of first publication, and the name of the owner of copyright. A copyright notice is no longer legally required to secure copyright on works first published on or after March 1, 1989, but it does provide legal benefits.

Deposit - The copy, copies, or phonorecords of an original work of authorship that are placed in the U.S. Copyright Office to support the claim to copyright in the work or to meet the mandatory deposit requirement of the 1976 Copyright Act. Deposits become part of the public record and may be selected by the Library of Congress for its collections.

Document - A paper relating to the ownership of a copyright or to any other matter involving a copyright. Documents may be recorded in the U.S. Copyright Office for the public record.

Phonorecord - A material object in which sounds are fixed and from which the sounds can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. A phonorecord may include a cassette tape, an LP vinyl disk, a compact disk, or other means of fixing sounds. A phonorecord does not include those sounds accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work.

Publish - To publish a work is to distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending. Publication also includes offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display. A public performance or display of a work does not of itself constitute publication.

Recordation - The official filing in the U.S. Copyright Office of a document having to do with copyright, such as a transfer of ownership or a grant of a security interest. The purpose of recordation is to make a public record of the facts in the document. The document must bear the actual signature of the person who executed it, or it must be accompanied by a sworn or official certification that it is a true copy of the original signed document.

Sound Recording - A sound recording is a work that results from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds, regardless of the nature of the material objects in which they are embodied. A sound recording does not include the sounds accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work. Copyright in a sound recording protects the particular series of sounds embodied in the sound recording. Copyright registration for a sound recording alone is not the same as registration for the musical, dramatic, or literary work recorded. The underlying work may be registered in its own right apart from any recording of the performance.

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