The following article appears in the journal JOM,
49 (10) (1997), pp. 47,48.

JOM is a publication of The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society

Understanding Copyrights: A Glossary

Arnold B. Silverman

In the August issue of JOM, the article "Understanding Copyrights: Ownership, Infringement, and Fair Use" discussed some of the fundamental concepts concerning U.S. copyright law. This glossary expands on the meaning of a number of the terms that were employed in that previous article. Although there is pending federal legislation that might revise the copyright law with respect to several special issues resulting from the rapid growth of the Internet, the definitions that are contained herein provide a basic list of currently used copyright terms.

Best Edition: The best edition of a work is the edition published in the United States at any time before the date of deposit that the Library of Congress determines to be most suitable for its purposes. The best edition must be provided as a deposit copy or copies with a copyright application.

Collective Work: A collective work is a work such as a periodical issue, anthology, or encyclopedia in which a number of contributions constituting separate and independent works in themselves are assembled into a collective whole.

Compilation: A work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or data that are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work, as a whole, constitutes an original work of authorship is a compilation. The term includes collective works.

Computer Program: A computer program is a set of statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in a computer in order to bring about a certain result.

Copies: Copies are material objects, other than phonorecords, in which a work is fixed by any method now known or later developed and from which the work can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. The term includes the material object, other than a phonorecord, in which the work is first fixed. One of the exclusive rights that a copyright owner has is the right to reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords. The copyright owner also has the exclusive right to distribute copies or phonorecords to the public.

Copyright Infringement: Infringement involves engaging in one of the practices that are exclusively reserved for a copyright owner, without a license to do so.

Copyright Term: For individuals, copyrights have a term of life of the author plus 50 years. For works made for hire, the term is the shorter of 75 years
from publication or 100 years from creation.

Criminal Copyright Infringement: Infringement that is engaged in willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or for private financial gain is considered to be criminal infringement.

Criminal Liability: Criminal liability in the form of a fine also applies to one who, with fraudulent intent, places a notice of copyright on a work or publicly distributes an article with such a notice, knowing it to be false or who fraudulently removes the copyright notice. One may also be fined for knowingly making a false representation of a material fact in an application for a copyright registration.

Derivative Work: A derivative work is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications that, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship is a derivative work.

Display: To display a work means to show a copy of it, either directly or by means of a film, slide, television image, or any other device or process or, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to show individual images nonsequentially.

Fair Use: Conduct that otherwise might involve infringement of a copyright may be regarded as permissible use under the concept of fair use. Under the circumstances of fair use, the conduct is excusable as being for certain educational, research, or scientific purposes or involving de minimis copying.

First-Sale Doctrine: One who lawfully owns a particular copy of a copyrighted work, such as a book or photograph, for example, is entitled to transfer that particular copy to another. Proposed federal legislation would preclude applicability of this doctrine to computer transmissions as one may deliver a copy to one or more others while retaining the original.

Joint Work: A joint work is a work that is prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole.

Notice of Copyright: For most types of works, a copyright notice consists of the word "copyright", the abbreviation "copr." or the symbol ©; the year of the first publication of the work; and the name of the owner of the copyrighted work.

Perform: To perform a work means to recite, render, play, dance, or act it, either directly or by means of any device or process or, in the case of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to show its images in any sequence or make the sounds accompanying it audible.

Publication: Publication is the distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, rental, lease, or lending. The offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display constitutes publication. A public performance or display of a work does not of itself constitute publication. A work that has been published may be registered as a published
work, as distinguished from an unpublished work.

Publicly: To perform or display a work publicly means (1) to perform or display it at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered or (2) to transmit or otherwise communicate a performance or display of the work to a place specified by the first clause or to the public by means of any device or process, whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance or display receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times. Among the exclusive rights of the copyright owner with respect to certain types of work is the exclusive right to perform or display the work publicly. This definition does not apply to distribution of copies to the public.

Willful Copyright Infringement: Infringement of a copyright under such circumstances that the infringer knew, or should have known, the copyright was being infringed is considered willful infringement.

Work of the United States Government: A work of the U.S. government is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the government as part of that person's official duties. Copyright protection is not available for any work of the government, but the government can receive copyrights by transfer, such as by assignment.

Work Made for Hire: A work made for hire is a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment or a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, a translation, a supplementary work, a compilation, an instructional text, a test, answer material for a test, or an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire. A supplementary work is a work prepared for publication as a secondary adjunct to a work by another author for the purpose of introducing, concluding, illustrating, explaining, revising, commenting upon, or assisting in the use of the other work, such as forewords, afterwords, pictorial illustrations, maps, charts, tables, editorial notes, musical arrangements, answer material for tests, bibliographies, appendixes, and indexes. An instructional text is a literary, pictorial, or graphic work prepared for publication with the purpose of use in systematic instructional activities. The employer, in the case of work prepared by an employee, and the one commissioning the work, in the second case, are deemed the author.

Arnold B. Silverman is chair of the Intellectual Property Department and a member of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

For more information, please contact A.B. Silverman at Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC, 600 Grant Street, 42nd Floor, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219; telephone (412) 566-2077; fax (412) 566-6099; e-mail ARNIE@TELERAMA.LM.COM.

Copyright © 1997 by The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society.

Direct questions about this or any other JOM page to jom@tms.org.

Search TMS Document Center Material Matters Contents JOM TMS OnLine