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

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2003.2 (A) Eligibility Based on Nationality or Domicile


2003.2 (A) Eligibility Based on Nationality or Domicile


Section 104 (B) (1) of the Copyright Act protects foreign works if, upon the work’s first publication, one or more author(s) of the work (I) is a national or domiciliary of the United States; (ii) is a national, domiciliary, or sovereign authority of a treaty party; or (iii) is a stateless person wherever that person is domiciled.


A “sovereign authority” is a governmental agency or subdivision of a foreign nation, such as a ministry of the government of Norway or a province of Canada. A “stateless person” is a person who has no nationality, either as the result of never having acquired nationality in any nation, or as the result of having effectively renounced or having been deprived of his or her former nationality without having, as yet, become a national of another nation.


Chapter 1900 generally discusses the concept of when a work is published. The concept of “first publication” is further defined in Section 104 (B) of the Copyright Act, which explains that “a work that is published in the United States or a treaty party within thirty days after publication in a foreign nation that is not a treaty party shall be considered to be first published in the United States or such treaty party, as the case may be.”


This means that a foreign work may be eligible for copyright protection in a wide variety of cases. Aside from U.S. nationals and domiciliaries, authors who are nationals or domiciliaries of any treaty party at the time of first publication can obtain U.S. protection for a foreign work. As discussed in Section 2004, the United States has entered into treaty relations with all but a handful of countries, meaning that the majority of foreign works will be eligible for protection under Section 104 (B) of the Copyright Act.


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