Cases, Legislation and Regulatory Materials

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Current Statute

  • Title 17 of United States Code is of the Copyright Statute. The latest total revision was the Copyright Act of 1976 (Pub. L. No. 94-553, 90 Stat. 2541; Oct. 19, 1976).
  • The U.S. Copyright Office free, current versions of Title 17 in HTML and Adobe Acrobat formats. Users can download the entire Title and amendments, or specific Chapters, in both formats.
  • The Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives is the entity charged with preparing and publishing the U.S. Code. They provide a searchable U.S. Code which allows searching within a single title, and the classification tables that provide references to the latest changes to the U.S. Code.

Proposed Legislation

Bills:

  • U.S. Copyright Office: The Copyright Office maintains an index of pending copyright and related legislation on its website that begins with the 105th Congress. The index provides the title of the bill, the bill number and the date the bill was introduced to Congress. If the bill became law, the index indicates the public law number.
  • THOMAS: THOMAS is most effective for materials from 1995 to present. In order to find information on copyright legislation in the current Congress, enter "copyright" as a search term in the input box next to "By Word/Phrase." (Tip: While THOMAS is the ultimate source for the pending copyright bills, the Copyright Office gives users a better way to access information without having to search THOMAS' entire legislative database.)

Additional Information:

  • U.S. Congress Judiciary Committees: The Judiciary Committees of both the Senate and the House of Representatives have primary legislative jurisdiction over intellectual property issues, including copyright. Both Committees post the language of proposed copyright bills to their respective websites in addition to information on hearings and committee meetings.
  • U.S. Congress Commerce Committees: Occasionally, the Senate Commerce Committee and the House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce committee may consider copyright legislation issues if the issue also involves interstate commerce.
  • BNA's Patent Trademark & Copyright Journal, (available by subscription only) reliably tracks important copyright legislative information. The Journal also publishes important copyright cases.

Regulations

The Code of Federal Regulations publishes the regulations that govern the activity of the U.S. Copyright Office. These regulations are promulgated at 37 C.F.R. Parts 201-260.

  • The U.S. Copyright Office's version of the Code of Federal Regulations is the easiest to use. The regulations are available in HTML and Adobe Acrobat formats, and users can download specific Parts in both formats.
  • The official Code of Federal Regulations is available at GPO Access. GPO also provides to the unofficial but more up-to-date e-CFR and the CFR updating tool, the List of Sections Affected.

Cases

It has become commonplace for copyright opinions to be available online almost immediately after the court has decided the case.

General Case Websites:

  • Federal Court Websites: Most of the nation's 107 federal district and appeals courts, including United States Supreme Court, maintain websites. Many federal courts make opinions available to the public even before they are available on commercial services. While case posting times vary widely across the federal court system, the Supreme Court generally is the best federal court at posting decisions online soon after the Justices have written an opinion.
  • Legal Information Institute: Cornell's Legal Information Institute provides free opinions from all of the federal appeals courts, and a good amount of federal trial courts. LII also has keeps a section of its site reserved for copyright decisions from the nation's federal appeals courts.
  • West Publishing's Federal Reporter and Federal Supplement are the quasi-official reporters for copyright cases that are decided in the federal circuit and federal district courts, respectively. Available on Westlaw (password required).
  • Lexis (password required) posts new and particularly important cases soon after the court releases an opinion.
  • U.S. Law Week (BNA): U.S. Law Week provides a summary and analysis of significant state and federal court opinions. Updated weekly, USLW does not focus on copyright, but it does a good job in publishing digital copyright cases. Available electronically by subscription.

Copyright and IP Case Reporters:

  • Copyright Law Decisions (CCH): Decisions is a reporter that publishes only copyright law decisions from around the nation. Decisions is updated on a monthly basis; this frequency is important because the reporter often serves as the sole citation for many copyright cases, until such time West Group can publish the same cases in one of its reporters. Available electronically by subscription.
  • Patent, Trademark & Copyright Journal (BNA): The Patent Trademark & Copyright Journal has a slightly broader scope than U.S. Patent Quarterly, its sister publication. In addition to cases, PTCJ includes information on treaties, legislation, rules from each of the three federal intellectual property Offices, and professional conferences. PTCJ is updated weekly. Available electronically by subscription.
  • U.S. Patent Quarterly (BNA): Despite its name, U.S. Patent Quarterly, now in its second series, publishes copyright cases in its Digest. USPQ has its own classification scheme, but works much like the West Digest system. New cases are added on a weekly basis. Available electronically by subscription.
  • Party Websites: Parties or amici that are involved in copyright litigation often will post court briefs, motions pleadings, and decisions to their website. Many times, key decisions involving the parties are posted within hours of the release of the decision.