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INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS

NATIONAL LEGISLATION - USA

Copyright Laws and Regulations

Laws: Title 17, United States Code

Regulations: Title 37, Chapters I (Subchapter C)
and II, Code of Federal Regulations


17 U.S.C. 411 Registration and infringement actions

  1. Except for actions for infringement of copyright in Berne Convention works whose country of origin is not the United States and an action brought for a violation of the rights of the author under section 106A(a), and subject to the provisions of subsection (b), no action for infringement of the copyright in any work shall be instituted until registration of the copyright claim has been made in accordance with this title. In any case, however, where the deposit, application, and fee required for registration have been delivered to the Copyright Office in proper form and registration has been refused, the applicant is entitled to institute an action for infringement if notice thereof, with a copy of the complaint, is served on the Register of Copyrights. The Register may, at his or her option, become a party to the action with respect to the issue of registrability of the copyright claim by entering an appearance within sixty days after such service, but the Register's failure to become a party shall not deprive the court of jurisdiction to determine that issue.

  2. In the case of a work consisting of sounds, images, or both, the first fixation of which is made simultaneously with its transmission, the copyright owner may, either before or after such fixation takes place, institute an action for infringement under section 501, fully subject to the remedies provided by sections 502 through 506 and sections 509 and 510, if, in accordance with requirements that the Register of Copyrights shall prescribe by regulation, the copyright owner--

    1. serves notice upon the infringer, not less than 48 hours before such fixation, identifying the work and the specific time and source of its first transmission, and declaring an intention to secure copyright in the work; and

    2. makes registration for the work, if required by subsection (a), within three months after its first transmission.

(Oct. 19, 1976, Pub. L. 94-553, Title I, 101, 90 Stat. 2583; Oct. 31, 1988, Pub. L. 100-568, 9(b)(1), 102 Stat. 2859; Dec. 1, 1990, Pub. L. 101-650, Title VI, 606(c)(1), 104 Stat. 5131.)

(As amended Nov. 13, 1997, Pub. L. 105-80, 6, 111 Stat. 1532.)

 

17 U.S.C. 412 Registration as prerequisite to certain remedies for infringement

In any action under this title, other than an action brought for a violation of the rights of the author under section 106A(a) or an action instituted under section 411(b), no award of statutory damages or of attorney's fees, as provided by sections 504 and 505, shall be made for--

  1. any infringement of copyright in an unpublished work commenced before the effective date of its registration; or

  2. any infringement of copyright commenced after first publication of the work and before the effective date of its registration, unless such registration is made within three months after the first publication of the work.

(Oct. 19, 1976, Pub. L. 94-553, Title I, 101, 90 Stat. 2583; Dec. 1, 1990, Pub. L. 101-650, Title VI, 606(c)(2), 104 Stat. 5131.)

 

17 U.S.C. 501 Infringement of copyright

  1. Anyone who violates any of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner as provided by sections 106 through 118, or of the author as provided in section 106A(a), or who imports copies or phonorecords into the United States in violation of section 602, is an infringer of the copyright or right of the author, as the case may be. For purposes of this chapter (other than section 506), any reference to copyright shall be deemed to include the rights conferred by section 106A(a). As used in this subsection, the term "anyone" includes any State, any instrumentality of a State, and any officer or employee of a State or instrumentality of a State acting in his or her official capacity. Any State, and any such instrumentality, officer, or employee, shall be subject to the provisions of this title in the same manner and to the same extent as any non-governmental entity.

  2. The legal or beneficial owner of an exclusive right under a copyright is entitled, subject to the requirements of section 411, to institute an action for any infringement of that particular right committed while he or she is the owner of it. The court may require such owner to serve written notice of the action with a copy of the complaint upon any person shown, by the records of the Copyright Office or otherwise, to have or claim an interest in the copyright, and shall require that such notice be served upon any person whose interest is likely to be affected by a decision in the case. The court may require the joinder, and shall permit the intervention, of any person having or claiming an interest in the copyright.

  3. For any secondary transmission by a cable system that embodies a performance or a display of a work which is actionable as an act of infringement under subsection (c) of section 111, a television broadcast station holding a copyright or other license to transmit or perform the same version of that work shall, for purposes of subsection (b) of this section, be treated as a legal or beneficial owner if such secondary transmission occurs within the local service area of that television station.

  4. For any secondary transmission by a cable system that is actionable as an act of infringement pursuant to section 111(c)(3), the following shall also have standing to sue: (i) the primary transmitter whose transmission has been altered by the cable system; and (ii) any broadcast station within whose local service area the secondary transmission occurs.

  5. With respect to any secondary transmission that is made by a satellite carrier of a primary transmission embodying the performance or display of a work and is actionable as an act of infringement under section 119(a)(5), a network station holding a copyright or other license to transmit or perform the same version of that work shall, for purposes of subsection (b) of this section, be treated as a legal or beneficial owner if such secondary transmission occurs within the local service area of that station.

(Oct. 19, 1976, Pub. L. 94-553, Title I, 101, 90 Stat. 2584; Oct. 31, 1988, Pub. L. 100-568, 10(a), 102 Stat. 2860; Nov. 16, 1988, Pub. L. 100-667, Title II, 202(3), 102 Stat. 3957; Nov. 15, 1990, Pub. L. 101-553, 2(a)(1), 104 Stat. 2749; Dec. 1, 1990, Pub. L. 101-650, Title VI, 606(a), 104 Stat. 5131.)

 

17 U.S.C. 502 Remedies for infringement: Injunctions

  1. Any court having jurisdiction of a civil action arising under this title may, subject to the provisions of section 1498 of title 28, grant temporary and final injunctions on such terms as it may deem reasonable to prevent or restrain infringement of a copyright.

  2. Any such injunction may be served anywhere in the United States on the person enjoined; it shall be operative throughout the United States and shall be enforceable, by proceedings in contempt or otherwise, by any United States court having jurisdiction of that person. The clerk of the court granting the injunction shall, when requested by any other court in which enforcement of the injunction is sought, transmit promptly to the other court a certified copy of all the papers in the case on file in such clerk's office.

(Oct. 19, 1976, Pub. L. 94-553, Title I, 101, 90 Stat. 2584.)

 

17 U.S.C. 503 Remedies for infringement: Impounding and disposition of infringing articles

  1. At any time while an action under this title is pending, the court may order the impounding, on such terms as it may deem reasonable, of all copies or phonorecords claimed to have been made or used in violation of the copyright owner's exclusive rights, and of all plates, molds, matrices, masters, tapes, film negatives, or other articles by means of which such copies or phonorecords may be reproduced.

  2. As part of a final judgment or decree, the court may order the destruction or other reasonable disposition of all copies or phonorecords found to have been made or used in violation of the copyright owner's exclusive rights, and of all plates, molds, matrices, masters, tapes, film negatives, or other articles by means of which such copies or phonorecords may be reproduced.

(Oct. 19, 1976, Pub. L. 94-553, Title I, 101, 90 Stat. 2585.)

 

17 U.S.C. 504 Remedies for infringement: Damages and profits

  1. In general. Except as otherwise provided by this title, an infringer of copyright is liable for either--

    1. the copyright owner's actual damages and any additional profits of the infringer, as provided by subsection (b); or

    2. statutory damages, as provided by subsection (c).

  2. Actual damages and profits. The copyright owner is entitled to recover the actual damages suffered by him or her as a result of the infringement, and any profits of the infringer that are attributable to the infringement and are not taken into account in computing the actual damages. In establishing the infringer's profits, the copyright owner is required to present proof only of the infringer's gross revenue, and the infringer is required to prove his or her deductible expenses and the elements of profit attributable to factors other than the copyrighted work.

  3. Statutory damages.

    1. Except as provided by clause (2) of this subsection, the copyright owner may elect, at any time before final judgment is rendered, to recover, instead of actual damages and profits, an award of statutory damages for all infringements involved in the action, with respect to any one work, for which any one infringer is liable individually, or for which any two or more infringers are liable jointly and severally, in a sum of not less than $500 or more than $20,000 as the court considers just. For the purposes of this subsection, all the parts of a compilation or derivative work constitute one work.

    2. In a case where the copyright owner sustains the burden of proving, and the court finds, that infringement was committed willfully, the court in its discretion may increase the award of statutory damages to a sum of not more than $100,000. In a case where the infringer sustains the burden of proving, and the court finds, that such infringer was not aware and had no reason to believe that his or her acts constituted an infringement of copyright, the court in its discretion may reduce the award of statutory damages to a sum of not less than $200. The court shall remit statutory damages in any case where an infringer believed and had reasonable grounds for believing that his or her use of the copyrighted work was a fair use under section 107, if the infringer was: (i) an employee or agent of a nonprofit educational institution, library, or archives acting within the scope of his or her employment who, or such institution, library, or archives itself, which infringed by reproducing the work in copies or phonorecords; or (ii) a public broadcasting entity which or a person who, as a regular part of the nonprofit activities of a public broadcasting entity (as defined in subsection (g) of section 118) infringed by performing a published non-dramatic literary work or by reproducing a transmission program embodying a performance of such a work.

(Oct. 19, 1976, Pub. L. 94-553, Title I, 101, 90 Stat. 2585; Oct. 31, 1988, Pub. L. 100-568, 10(b), 102 Stat. 2860.)

(As amended Nov. 13, 1997, Pub. L. 105-80, 12(a)(13), 111 Stat. 1535.)

 

17 U.S.C. 505 Remedies for infringement: Costs and attorney's fees

In any civil action under this title, the court in its discretion may allow the recovery of full costs by or against any party other than the United States or an officer thereof. Except as otherwise provided by this title, the court may also award a reasonable attorney's fee to the prevailing party as part of the costs.

(Oct. 19, 1976, Pub. L. 94-553, Title I, 101, 90 Stat. 2586.)

 

17 U.S.C. 506 Criminal offenses

  1. Criminal infringement. Any person who infringes a copyright willfully either--

    1. for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain, or

    2. by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000,

      shall be punished as provided under section 2319 of title 18, United States Code. For purposes of this subsection, evidence of reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work, by itself, shall not be sufficient to establish willful infringement.

  2. Forfeiture and destruction. When any person is convicted of any violation of subsection (a), the court in its judgment of conviction shall, in addition to the penalty therein prescribed, order the forfeiture and destruction or other disposition of all infringing copies or phonorecords and all implements, devices, or equipment used in the manufacture of such infringing copies or phonorecords.

  3. Fraudulent copyright notice. Any person who, with fraudulent intent, places on any article a notice of copyright or words of the same purport that such person knows to be false, or who, with fraudulent intent, publicly distributes or imports for public distribution any article bearing such notice or words that such person knows to be false, shall be fined not more than $2,500.

  4. Fraudulent removal of copyright notice. Any person who, with fraudulent intent, removes or alters any notice of copyright appearing on a copy of a copyrighted work shall be fined not more than $2,500.

  5. False representation. Any person who knowingly makes a false representation of a material fact in the application for copyright registration provided for by section 409, or in any written statement filed in connection with the application, shall be fined not more than $2,500.

  6. Rights of attribution and integrity. Nothing in this section applies to infringement of the rights conferred by section 106A(a).

(Oct. 19, 1976, Pub. L. 94-553, Title I, 101, 90 Stat. 2586; May 24, 1982, Pub. L. 97-180, 5, 96 Stat. 93; Dec. 1, 1990, Pub. L. 101-650, Title VI, 606(b), 104 Stat. 5131)

(As amended Dec. 16, 1997, Pub. L. 105-147, 2(b), 111 Stat. 2678.)

 

17 U.S.C. 507 Limitations on actions

  1. Criminal proceedings. No criminal proceeding shall be maintained under the provisions of this title unless it is commenced within 5 years after the cause of action arose.

  2. Civil actions. No civil action shall be maintained under the provisions of this title unless it is commenced within three years after the claim accrued.

(Oct. 19, 1976, Pub. L. 94-553, Title I, 101, 90 Stat. 2586.)

(As amended Dec. 16, 1997, Pub. L. 105-147, 2(c), 111 Stat. 2678.)

 

17 U.S.C. 508 Notification of filing and determination of actions

  1. Within one month after the filing of any action under this title, the clerks of the courts of the United States shall send written notification to the Register of Copyrights setting forth, as far as is shown by the papers filed in the court, the names and addresses of the parties and the title, author, and registration number of each work involved in the action. If any other copyrighted work is later included in the action by amendment, answer, or other pleading, the clerk shall also send a notification concerning it to the Register within one month after the pleading is filed.

  2. Within one month after any final order or judgment is issued in the case, the clerk of the court shall notify the Register of it, sending with the notification a copy of the order or judgment together with the written opinion, if any, of the court.

  3. Upon receiving the notifications specified in this section, the Register shall make them a part of the public records of the Copyright Office.

(Oct. 19, 1976, Pub. L. 94-553, Title I, 101, 90 Stat. 2586.)

 

17 U.S.C. 509 Seizure and forfeiture

  1. All copies or phonorecords manufactured, reproduced, distributed, sold, or otherwise used, intended for use, or possessed with intent to use in violation of section 506(a), and all plates, molds, matrices, masters, tapes, film negatives, or other articles by means of which such copies or phonorecords may be reproduced, and all electronic, mechanical, or other devices for manufacturing, reproducing, or assembling such copies or phonorecords may be seized and forfeited to the United States.

  2. The applicable procedures relating to (i) the seizure, summary and judicial forfeiture, and condemnation of vessels, vehicles, merchandise, and baggage for violations of the customs laws contained in title 19, (ii) the disposition of such vessels, vehicles, merchandise, and baggage or the proceeds from the sale thereof, (iii) the remission or mitigation of such forfeiture, (iv) the compromise of claims, and (v) the award of compensation to informers in respect of such forfeitures, shall apply to seizures and forfeitures incurred, or alleged to have been incurred, under the provisions of this section, insofar as applicable and not inconsistent with the provisions of this section; except that such duties as are imposed upon any officer or employee of the Treasury Department or any other person with respect to the seizure and forfeiture of vessels, vehicles, merchandise, and baggage under the provisions of the customs laws contained in title 19 shall be performed with respect to seizure and forfeiture of all articles described in subsection (a) by such officers, agents, or other persons as may be authorized or designated for that purpose by the Attorney General.

(Oct. 19, 1976, Pub. L. 94-553, Title I, 101, 90 Stat. 2587.)

(As amended Nov. 13, 1997, Pub. L. 105-80, 12(a)(14), 111 Stat. 1535.)

 

17 U.S.C. 510 Remedies for alteration of programming by cable systems

  1. In any action filed pursuant to section 111(c)(3), the following remedies shall be available:

    1. Where an action is brought by a party identified in subsections (b) or (c) of section 501, the remedies provided by sections 502 through 505, and the remedy provided by subsection (b) of this section; and

    2. When an action is brought by a party identified in subsection (d) of section 501, the remedies provided by sections 502 and 505, together with any actual damages suffered by such party as a result of the infringement, and the remedy provided by subsection (b) of this section.

  2. In any action filed pursuant to section 111(c)(3), the court may decree that, for a period not to exceed thirty days, the cable system shall be deprived of the benefit of a compulsory license for one or more distant signals carried by such cable system.

(Oct. 19, 1976, Pub. L. 94-553, Title I, 101, 90 Stat. 2587.)

 

17 U.S.C. 511 Liability of States, instrumentalities of States, and State officials for infringement of copyright

  1. In General. Any State, any instrumentality of a State, and any officer or employee of a State or instrumentality of a State acting in his or her official capacity, shall not be immune, under the Eleventh Amendment of the Constitution of the United States or under any other doctrine of sovereign immunity, from suit in Federal Court by any person, including any governmental or non-governmental entity, for a violation of any of the exclusive rights of a copyright owner provided by sections 106 through 119, for importing copies of phonorecords in violation of section 602, or for any other violation under this title.

  2. Remedies. In a suit described in subsection (a) for a violation described in that subsection, remedies (including remedies both at law and in equity) are available for the violation to the same extent as such remedies are available for such a violation in a suit against any public or private entity other than a State, instrumentality of a State, or officer or employee of a State acting in his or her official capacity. Such remedies include impounding and disposition of infringing articles under section 503, actual damages and profits and statutory damages under section 504, costs and attorney's fees under section 505, and the remedies provided in section 510.

(Added Nov. 15, 1990, Pub. L. 101-553, 2(a)(2), 104 Stat. 2749.)

 

17 U.S.C. 601 Manufacture, importation and public distribution of certain copies

  1. Prior to July 1, 1986, and except as provided by subsection (b), the importation into or public distribution in the United States of copies of a work consisting preponderantly of non-dramatic literary material that is in the English language and is protected under this title is prohibited unless the portions consisting of such material have been manufactured in the United States or Canada.

  2. The provisions of subsection (a) do not apply--

    1. where, on the date when importation is sought or public distribution in the United States is made, the author of any substantial part of such material is neither a national nor a domiciliary of the United States or, if such author is a national of the United States, he or she has been domiciled outside the United States for a continuous period of at least one year immediately preceding that date; in the case of a work made for hire, the exemption provided by this clause does not apply unless a substantial part of the work was prepared for an employer or other person who is not a national or domiciliary of the United States or a domestic corporation or enterprise;

    2. where the United States Customs Service is presented with an import statement issued under the seal of the Copyright Office, in which case a total of no more than two thousand copies of any one such work shall be allowed entry; the import statement shall be issued upon request to the copyright owner or to a person designated by such owner at the time of registration for the work under section 408 or at any time thereafter;

    3. where importation is sought under the authority or for the use, other than in schools, of the Government of the United States or of any State or political subdivision of a State;

    4. where importation, for use and not for sale, is sought--

      1. by any person with respect to no more than one copy of any work at any one time;

      2. by any person arriving from outside the United States, with respect to copies forming part of such person's personal baggage; or

      3. by an organization operated for scholarly, educational, or religious purposes and not for private gain, with respect to copies intended to form a part of its library;

    5. where the copies are reproduced in raised characters for the use of the blind; or

    6. where, in addition to copies imported under clauses (3) and (4) of this subsection, no more than two thousand copies of any one such work, which have not been manufactured in the United States or Canada, are publicly distributed in the United States; or

    7. where, on the date when importation is sought or public distribution in the United States is made--

      1. the author of any substantial part of such material is an individual and receives compensation for the transfer or license of the right to distribute the work in the United States; and

      2. the first publication of the work has previously taken place outside the United States under a transfer or license granted by such author to a transferee or licensee who was not a national or domiciliary of the United States or a domestic corporation or enterprise; and

      3. there has been no publication of an authorized edition of the work of which the copies were manufactured in the United States; and

      4. the copies were reproduced under a transfer or license granted by such author or by the transferee or licensee of the right of first publication as mentioned in subclause (B), and the transferee or the licensee of the right of reproduction was not a national or domiciliary of the United States or a domestic corporation or enterprise.

  3. The requirement of this section that copies be manufactured in the United States or Canada is satisfied if--

    1. in the case where the copies are printed directly from type that has been set, or directly from plates made from such type, the setting of the type and the making of the plates have been performed in the United States or Canada; or

    2. in the case where the making of plates by a lithographic or photoengraving process is a final or intermediate step preceding the printing of the copies, the making of the plates has been performed in the United States or Canada; and

    3. in any case, the printing or other final process of producing multiple copies and any binding of the copies have been performed in the United States or Canada.

  4. Importation or public distribution of copies in violation of this section does not invalidate protection for a work under this title. However, in any civil action or criminal proceeding for infringement of the exclusive rights to reproduce and distribute copies of the work, the infringer has a complete defense with respect to all of the non-dramatic literary material comprised in the work and any other parts of the work in which the exclusive rights to reproduce and distribute copies are owned by the same person who owns such exclusive rights in the non-dramatic literary material, if the infringer proves--

    1. that copies of the work have been imported into or publicly distributed in the United States in violation of this section by or with the authority of the owner of such exclusive rights; and

    2. that the infringing copies were manufactured in the United States or Canada in accordance with the provisions of subsection (c); and

    3. that the infringement was commenced before the effective date of registration for an authorized edition of the work, the copies of which have been manufactured in the United States or Canada in accordance with the provisions of subsection (c).

  5. In any action for infringement of the exclusive rights to reproduce and distribute copies of a work containing material required by this section to be manufactured in the United States or Canada, the copyright owner shall set forth in the complaint the names of the persons or organizations who performed the processes specified by subsection (c) with respect to that material, and the places where those processes were performed.

(Oct. 19, 1976, Pub. L. 94-553, Title I, 101, 90 Stat. 2588; July 13, 1982, Pub. L. 97-215, 96 Stat. 178.)

(As amended Nov. 13, 1997, Pub. L. 105-80, 12(a)(15), (16), 111 Stat. 1535.)


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