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

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2002.1 What Is a Foreign Work?


2002.1 What Is a Foreign Work?


For purposes of copyright registration, the term “foreign works” generally refers to works created by author(s) who are not U.S. citizens or U.S. nationals and/or works that were first published abroad. Generally, the author is the person or persons who actually created the material that the applicant intends to register. There is an exception to this rule if the work is a work made for hire. For a definition and discussion of works made for hire, see Chapter 500, Section 506.


U.S. citizens are people who are citizens in accordance with the U.S. Constitution or federal statutes, including (I) people born in Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico; and (ii) certain people who are by federal statute nationals, but not citizens of the United States, including people born in the outlying possessions of the United States. All U.S. citizens are also U.S. nationals. Works by U.S. citizens and nationals are not considered foreign works, and generally they are eligible for U.S. copyright protection.


The types of works that may be protected under the Copyright Act include literary works; musical works, including any accompanying words; dramatic works, including any accompanying music; pantomimes and choreographic works; pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works; sound recordings; and architectural works; as well as derivative works, compilations, and collective works. For a definition and discussion of these types of works, see Chapter 500, Sections 507 (Derivative Works), 508 (Compilations), and 509 (Collective Works), and Chapters 700 (Literary Works), 800 (Works of the Performing Arts), and 900 (Visual Art Works).


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