Compendium of U.S. Copyright Practices, 3rd Edition

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1909.2 Publishing a Portion of a Work

1909.2 Publishing a Portion of a Work

Publishing a portion of a work does not necessarily mean that the work as a whole has been published. As a general rule, publication applies only to the specific portions of the work that have been distributed to the public or offered for distribution to a group of persons for the purpose of further distribution, public performance, or public display.


• Publishing a detailed summary of a novel does not publish the novel as a whole.

• Publishing a treatment or synopsis of a motion picture does not publish the motion picture as a whole.

• Publishing a motion picture that is based on an unpublished manuscript publishes the elements of the manuscript that are embodied in the motion picture, but it does not publish the manuscript as a whole.

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