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Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17)
and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code

How long does copyright protection last?

The length of copyright protection depends on when a work was created. Under the current law, works created on or after January 1, 1978, have a copyright term of life of the author plus seventy years after the author’s death. 

This publication contains the text of Title 17 of the United States Code, including all amendments enacted by Congress through October 17, 2022. It includes the Copyright Act of 1976 and all subsequent amendments to copyright law; the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act of 1984, as amended; and the Vessel Hull Design Protection Act, as amended. The Copyright Office is responsible for registering intellectual property claims under all three.

The United States copyright law is contained in chapters 1 through 8 and 10 through 12 of Title 17 of the United States Code. The Copyright Act of 1976, which provides the basic framework for the current copyright law, was enacted on October 19, 1976, as Pub. L. No. 94-553, 90 Stat. 2541. The 1976 Act was a comprehensive revision of the copyright law in Title 17. Listed below in chronological order of their enactment are the Copyright Act of 1976 and subsequent amendments to Title 17.

This edition adds one piece of copyright legislation enacted since the last printed edition of the circular in May 2021: the Artistic Recognition for Talented Students Act, signed into law in October 2022.

U.S. Copyright Law, October 2022 [size 6 MB]

Preface: Amendments to Title 17 since 1976


Title 17 of the United States Code

Chapter 1:

Subject Matter and Scope of Copyright

Chapter 2:

Copyright Ownership and Transfer

Chapter 3:

Duration of Copyright

Chapter 4:

Copyright Notice, Deposit, and Registration

Chapter 5:

Copyright Infringement and Remedies

Chapter 6:

Importation and Exportation

Chapter 7:

Copyright Office

Chapter 8:

Proceedings by Copyright Royalty Judges

Chapter 9:

Protection of Semiconductor Chip Products

Chapter 10:

Digital Audio Recording Devices and Media

Chapter 11:

Sound Recordings and Music Videos

Chapter 12:

Copyright Protection and Management Systems

Chapter 13:

Protection of Original Designs

Chapter 14:

Unauthorized Use of Pre-1972 Sound Recordings

Chapter 15:

Copyright Small Claims


Transitional and Related Statutory Provisions

Appendix A:

The Copyright Act of 1976

Appendix B:

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998

Appendix C:

The Copyright Royalty and Distribution Reform Act of 2004

Appendix D:

The Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act of 2004

Appendix E:

The Intellectual Property Protection and Courts Amendments Act of 2004

Appendix F:

The Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008

Appendix G:

The Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010

Appendix H:

The Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act

Appendix I:

The STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014

Appendix J:

Marrakesh Treaty Implementation Act

Appendix K:

Orrin G. Hatch–Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act

Appendix L:

Satellite Television Community Protection and Promotion Act of 2019, Title X of the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020

Appendix M:

Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020


Related United States Code Provisions

Appendix N:

Title 18 — Crimes and Criminal Procedure, U.S. Code

Appendix O:

Title 28 — Judiciary and Judicial Procedure, U.S. Code

Appendix P:

Title 44 — Public Printing and Documents, U.S. Code

Related International Provisions

Appendix Q:

The Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1988

Appendix R:

The Uruguay Round Agreements Act of 1994

Appendix S:

GATT/Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) Agreement, Part II

Appendix T:

Definition of “Berne Convention Work”

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