FIND YOURSELF IN COPYRIGHT EXHIBIT

Exhibit Artifact Highlights

On December 1, 1990, Congress extended copyright protection to architectural works when it passed the Visual Artists Rights Act. Copyright law now protects architectural works created on or after that date as long as they are humanly habitable structures intended to be permanent and stationary, such as houses, office buildings, churches, museums, and even gazebos. This means, however, that this type of protection does not extend to certain structures like bridges, walkways, or birdhouses, no matter how creative they may be.

Creators can register architectural works with the Copyright Office that are sufficiently original and embodied in a tangible medium of expression—for example, as a constructed building or as depicted in architectural plans or drawings. Copyright law protects the overall form of a building—the exterior facades (or elevations) when viewed from all sides—as well as any composition of the interior architecture, which includes the arrangement of walls and other permanent structures. It does not protect individual standard features like windows and doors, standard space configurations, purely functional features, or interior design elements.

When examining an architectural work, the Office applies a two-step test. First, the registration specialist will determine if the work contains original design elements by considering the overall shape and interior architecture. Then, the specialist will determine if the design elements are functionally required. If they’re not, then the work is protectable.

Additionally, creators may register the technical drawing depicting the building or structure as a pictorial work. In this case, the copyright protection extends only to the drawing itself and not to the architectural work.

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Related Exhibit Artifacts

I. M. Pei in front of the National Gallery of Art East Building. Washington, DC, ca. 1978. Gelatin silver print. Facsimile. Visual Materials from the I. M. Pei Papers, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

I. M. Pei. National Gallery of Art East Building, Washington, DC, trapezoid study and details, sketches, 1969. Colored ink on photocopy. Facsimile. Visual Materials from the I. M. Pei Papers, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

In the 1954 infringement dispute over Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals indicated that a fictional character might be eligible for copyright protection if it “constitutes the story being told.” It was not the first court to address this question. In 1930, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals denied protection to stock characters in Nichols v. Universal Pictures Corporation, stating, “The less developed the characters, the less they can be copyrighted.”

Courts have since considered these two approaches in disputes involving literary characters, generally finding that the more developed a character is and the more central it is to the story, the more likely copyright protects it.

While copyright law does not protect the name or general idea for a character, it may protect a sufficiently creative work that describes or depicts a particular character. In this case, the copyright extends to the literary or visual delineation of the character’s specific attributes expressed in textual, pictorial, or graphic form. Trademark law may provide additional protection for a character’s name or other attributes if these aspects of the character satisfy the requirements for trademark protection.

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Related Exhibit Artifacts

Dashiell Hammett. The Maltese Falcon. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1930. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. Film prop from The Maltese Falcon, 1941. Plaster painted with black enamel. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

The Copyright Office holds the most complete and accurate collection of copyright records in the world, including this catalog card for Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Samuel Clemens, or Mark Twain. From 1790 to 1870, copyright owners filed registrations with U.S. district courts around the country, where they were handwritten in record books. An estimated 19 million of these original handwritten registration records are preserved in approximately 26,000 copyright record books. These original books are located in the Rare Book Collection of the Library of Congress, but the Copyright Office maintains a microfilm copy of the collection.

When Congress centralized the administration of copyright law in the Library of Congress in 1870, staff examined, numbered, and recorded copyright registrations in record books until the card catalog system began in 1889. The U.S. Copyright Office Card Catalog provides an index of copyright registrations, renewals, recorded documents, and other public records related to the copyright ownership of works. More than 41 million cards record the literary, musical, artistic, and scientific history of the United States from 1870 through 1977.

In addition to the card catalog, the Office’s historical records include the Catalogs of Copyright Entries, which are compilations of registration indexes from July 1, 1891, through 1977. Each volume lists entries by author or title. The details in these volumes are similar to the information included on the corresponding catalog card.

Copyright records for works registered since 1978 can be found online at copyright.gov.

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Related Exhibit Artifacts

Samuel Clemens. Catalog cards for Adventures of Tom Sawyer. 1875, 1903. Facsimile. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

“I Will Always Love You,” written by Dolly Parton, is one of the most recognizable musical compositions in the past fifty years. It has spurred a multitude of recordings by artists in many genres—most notably, Whitney Houston. Under copyright law, each recording of “I Will Always Love You” is a separate, copyright-protected work and is different from the underlying musical work.

A musical work is a musical composition and any accompanying lyrics, such as a song. Typically, a musical work is created by a songwriter or composer. A sound recording is a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds fixed in a recording medium, generally created by the performer or producer of the recording. For both, copyright protection begins the moment the work is fixed—for example, a musical work is fixed when it is notated in sheet music, and both a musical work and a sound recording are fixed when the recording is created.

hile in certain cases a musical work and a sound recording may be created or experienced simultaneously, they are subject to different rights under the Copyright Act and are commonly owned and licensed under different terms. Generally, to use someone else’s musical work or sound recording, you must (1) use a work already in the public domain, (2) get permission from the copyright owner directly or through their representative, including by a license or other transfer, or (3) rely on copyright law’s exceptions and limitations, like fair use or the section 115 license for musical works.

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Related Exhibit Artifacts

Dennis Carney. Dolly Parton. Photograph. Facsimile. Dolly Parton and the Roots of Country Music Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress

Dolly Parton. I Will Always Love You. Nashville: RCA, 1982. 45 RPM vinyl record. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Various artists. The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album. New York: Arista Records, Inc., 1992. Compact disc. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

A Face without Freckles Is a Night without Stars

Rachel Meghan Markle. A Face without Freckles... Is a Night without Stars. Unpublished, 1996. Facsimile. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

The Adventures of Superman

Ben Peter Freeman. The Adventures of Superman: “Crime Wave,” National Comics Publications, Inc., 1951. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Adventures of Superman: The Complete First Season. Warner Brothers, 2005. DVD box set. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

D.C. Inc. Kellogg’s Superman button, 1946. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Alexander Hamilton

Ron Chernow. Alexander Hamilton. New York: Penguin Books, 2004. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Key art poster for Hamilton: An American Musical, 2015. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Balinese Dancer Statuette

Rena Stein. Balinese Dancer. Reglor of California, 1950. Statuette. Semivitreous china. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Bradley Maps

Abraham Bradley. Map of the United States, Exhibiting Post Roads & Distances: The First Sheet Comprehending the Nine Northern States, with Parts of Virginia and the Territory North of Ohio.

Philadelphia: Abraham Bradley Jr., 1796. Hand-colored map. Facsimile. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress

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Breakout

Atari Games Corp. Images from video game Breakout, 1975. Facsimile. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

The Color Purple

Alice Walker. The Color Purple. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

The Color Purple motion picture poster, 1985. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems

Shawn Miller, U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, 2019. Facsimile. Library of Congress

Joy Harjo. Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems. New York: W. W. Norton, 2017. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

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Fandango and Fé Alf Photograph

Anthony Tudor. Fandango, 1971. Labanotation. Facsimile. U.S Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Arnold Genthe. Photograph of Fé Alf, dancer from Hanya Holm’s Wigman School in New York City. Facsimile. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

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Fred Ott’s Sneeze

W. K. L. Dickson. Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze. 1894. Photographic print. Facsimile. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Letter from Edison Laboratory engineer to the Copyright Office, 1893. Facsimile. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

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Harlem Globetrotters Pressbook

Abe Saperstein’s Fabulous Harlem Globetrotters. Pressbook, 1951. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

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“He’s So Fine”

Ronnie Mack. He’s So Fine. New York: Bright Tunes Music Corp., 1963. Facsimile. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

“I Have a Dream” Speech

United Press International. “I Have a Dream.” Washington, DC, 1963. Gelatin silver print. Facsimile. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have a Dream,” August 28, 1963. Typewritten manuscript. Facsimile. Copyright Deposits, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

Pittsburgh Courier, 1963. Facsimile. Serial and Government Publications, Library of Congress

I. M. Pei Photograph and Sketches

I. M. Pei in front of the National Gallery of Art East Building. Washington, DC, ca. 1978. Gelatin silver print. Facsimile. Visual Materials from the I. M. Pei Papers, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

I. M. Pei. National Gallery of Art East Building, Washington, DC, trapezoid study and details, sketches, 1969. Colored ink on photocopy. Facsimile. Visual Materials from the I. M. Pei Papers, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

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“I Will Always Love You”

Dennis Carney. Dolly Parton. Photograph. Facsimile. Dolly Parton and the Roots of Country Music Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress

Dolly Parton. I Will Always Love You. Nashville: RCA, 1982. 45 RPM vinyl record. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Various artists. The Bodyguard: Original Soundtrack Album. New York: Arista Records, Inc., 1992. Compact disc. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

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Kermit the Frog Hand Puppet

James Maury Henson. Kermit, the Muppet, 1955. Hand puppet. Textile work. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

The Maltese Falcon

Dashiell Hammett. The Maltese Falcon. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1930. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. Film prop from The Maltese Falcon, 1941. Plaster painted with black enamel. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

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Mario Bros.

Nintendo. Mario Bros., Nintendo, 1983. Game & Watch. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Nintendo. Super Mario Bros. Wisconsin: Western Publishing Company, Inc., 1993. Coloring book. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Mark Twain Photograph and Catalog Cards

A. F. Bradley. Mark Twain. New York, 1907. Photograph. Facsimile. New York World-Telegram and the Sun Photograph Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Samuel Clemens. Catalog cards for Adventures of Tom Sawyer. 1875, 1903. Facsimile. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

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Motion Picture Technological Evolution

Motion Picture Reel. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

LaserDisc. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Betacam Tape. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Hard Drive. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Oscar Wilde Photograph

Napoleon Sarony. Oscar Wilde, 1882. Photographic print on card mount. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Napoleon Sarony. Application for registration of copyright, 1882. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

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Philadelphia Spelling Book

John Barry. The Philadelphia Spelling Book: Arranged upon a Plan Entirely New, Adapted to the Capacities of Children . . . to Expedite the Instruction of Youth. Philadelphia: Printed by Joseph James, 1790. Facsimile. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress

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Saints and Sinners

Henry Arthur Jones. Saints and Sinners: A New and Original Drama of Modern English Middle-Class Life in Five Acts. London and New York: Macmillan and Co., 1891. Facsimile. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress

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Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc.

Varsity Brands, Inc. Cheerleading uniform. 2005. Facsimile. Copyright deposit, U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

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Star Wars

Tom Jung. Star Wars motion picture poster. Twentieth Century- Fox Film Corporation, 1977. Photomechanical print. Facsimile. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

John Williams. Star Wars; Suite from the Motion Picture Score. Fox Fanfare Music, Inc., 1977. Facsimile. Music Division, Library of Congress

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Statue of Liberty

Advertisement for Low’s Jersey Lily for the handkerchief. Root and Tinker, 1883. Color lithograph. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. Bird’s-eye panoramic view of Statue of Liberty, 1876. Print. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi. Statue of American Independence, 1976. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Emma Lazarus. The Poems of Emma Lazarus, Volume 1. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1888. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress

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Uncle Sam Bank

Jeffrey Snyder. Uncle Sam Bank, 1975. Plastic reproduction. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Winnie the Pooh

A. A. Milne and Christopher Robin Milne, 1932. Photoprint. Facsimile. New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper Photograph Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Alan Alexander “A. A.” Milne. When We Were Very Young. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1924. Facsimile. Oliver Wendell Holmes Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

L. Frank Baum and W. W. Denslow. Proprietor card for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, 1900. Manuscript/mixed material. Facsimile. Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress

L. Frank Baum. Envelope for letter from Baum to the Copyright Office, 1900. Facsimile. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Re-issue of key art poster for Wicked the Musical, 2003. U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

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Zora Neale Hurston Photograph and Script

Zora Neale Hurston, 1901–1960, between 1935 and 1943. Photograph. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Zora Neale Hurston. Poker!. Unpublished, 1931. Manuscript/ mixed material. Facsimile. Copyright Deposit Drama Collection, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

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