Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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News Release — 28 January 2003

Copyright & Archives:
Law Professor R. Anthony Reese Speaks

Austin, Texas -- The Ransom Center is pleased to welcome R. Anthony Reese to talk about the recently effected law regarding copyright extensions and the inclusion of certain unregistered and unpublished materials in the public domain.

Under the 1909 Copyright Act, works that were neither published nor registered did not enjoy statutory protection, although they were protected under common law in perpetuity as long as they remained unpublished and unregistered. But under section 303 of the 1976 Copyright Act, works that were created but neither published nor registered in the Copyright Office before January 1, 1978, lost their common law protection and acquired a statutory term of protection that was the life of the author plus 50 years, amended in 1998 (as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act) to life plus 70 years.

As a result of the 1976 Copyright Act, any of the works in question whose author had died over 50 years prior to 1978 would have entered the public domain after December 31, 1977. To provide a reasonable term of copyright protection for these works, and in light of the fact that these works had enjoyed perpetual protection under common law, Congress extended their term by at least 25 more years. Congress also encouraged publication by providing an additional 25 more years, extended in 1998 to 45 more years, of protection if the work was published on or before December 31, 2002.

Professor Reese will talk about the details of the statute and its implications for institutions such as the Ransom Center which have archival holdings.

For more information call 512.232.3667.

NOTE: Due to the construction project at the Ransom Center, the entrance is at the loading dock on the north side of the building.

Ransom Center

One of the world's finest cultural archives, the Ransom Center houses 36 million literary manuscripts, 1 million rare books, 5 million photographs, and over 100,000 works of art and design. Highlights include the Gutenberg Bible (c. 1450), the world's first photograph (c. 1826), important paintings by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and major manuscript collections of James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Tennessee Williams to name but a few. The Center is used extensively for research by scholars from around the world and presents numerous exhibitions and events each year showcasing its collections. Exhibitions and events are free and open to the public.




    Copyright & Archives: The Unpublished Public Domain.

    A Talk by
    R. Anthony Reese
    3:30 p.m., Wednesday
    February 5, 2003
    Tom Lea Room
    3rd Floor
    The Ransom Center

    Anthony Reese is an assistant professor of Law at The University of Texas who specializes in copyright, trademark, and internet law. He received his B.A. in Russian Language and Literature from Yale, and earned his J.D. with distinction from Stanford. He served as law clerk for the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and practiced law in San Francisco for several years. His current work focuses on copyright law and intellectual property on the internet.

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Elizabeth Page
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Harry Ransom Center
The University of Texas at Austin
P.O. Box 7219
Austin TX 78713-7219

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