By Helen Leskovac, Documents/Reference Librarian, Rutgers Law School-Newark Library
Last October, the 105th Congress extended copyright protection of published works from fifty to seventy years. The Sonny
Bono Copyright Term Extension Act1 also added a novel fair use provision for libraries and archives during the last twenty years. The Act states that after reasonable investigation, libraries and archives may make fair use of a work on three conditions: when the work is (1)not "subject to normal commercial exploitation," (2)a copy cannot be obtained at a
reasonable price, and (3)the copyright owner has not provided notice, through the U.S. Copyright Office, that the work is subject to normal commercial exploitation or a copy is obtainable at a reasonable price.2|
The Act applies to protected works as of January 1, 1999. The expiration of a copyright term is always at the end of a calendar year.3 Thus, although the Act was effective when enacted last October, the earliest copyright term to which the Act applies began on January 1, 1999. Works which were copyrighted in 1923 and properly renewed in 1950-51, plus foreign works protected under 17 U.S.C. Section 104A are also affected by the Act.4
On December 30, the Copyright Office announced interim procedures for copyright owners to provide notice to libraries and archives (NLA) that either the work is subject to normal commercial exploitation or can be obtained at a reasonable price.5 Among others, copyright owners must file notice at the Copyright Office, with a $50 filing fee for the first work and $20 for each additional work.
Information in the Notices will be publicly available in the Copyright Office History Documents (COHD) file at the Copyright Office and through its web site at http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/rb.html. For more information, see the "Notice to Libraries and Archives of Normal Commercial Exploitation or Availability at Reasonable Price" at http://lcweb.loc.gov/copyright/cpypub/nla.html.