Criminal Copyright Infringement— 17 U.S.C. § 506 and 18 U.S.C. § 2319 (continuation)


II.A.4. Federal Preemption
In addition to being primarily statutory, copyright law is also primarily a matter of federal law. For most of the history of the United States, state- and common-law copyright protections coexisted with federal copyright laws. See, e.g., Wheaton v. Peters, 33 U.S. 591, 597-98 (1834). But the Copyright Act of 1976 amended Title 17 to preempt state laws that provide rights "equivalent to" rights granted under federal copyright law. 17 U.S.C. § 301(a).
Despite this preemption, copyright law continues to be intertwined with state law in certain cases, such as those involving license agreements and other contracts governing ownership and use of copyrighted works. E.g., Storage Technology Corp. v. Custom Hardware Eng'g & Consulting, Inc., 421 F.3d 1307 (Fed. Cir. 2005). State copyright law also continues to apply to sound recordings recorded before 1972, because sound recordings were not protected by federal copyright law until 1972. Consequently, pre-1972 sound recordings may still be protected by state copyrights until 2067. See La Cienega Music Co. v. ZZ Top, 53 F.3d 950 (9th Cir. 1995); 17 U.S.C. §  301(c).
II.A.5. When Copyright Protection Begins and Ends
A work is protected by copyright law from the moment it is created, even if it is not registered. See 17 U.S.C. §§ 101-102(a), 408(a). Although registration with the Register of Copyrights is not a prerequisite to copyright protection, it generally is a prerequisite to civil enforcement and to some remedies. Registration is generally a prerequisite to a copyright holder's civil suit for infringement. See 17 U.S.C. § 411. If the work was registered only after infringement, the plaintiff may still collect actual damages for infringement committed prior to registration, but generally cannot collect statutory damages or attorneys' fees. See 17 U.S.C. § 412. The Department's position that registration is not a prerequisite to criminal enforcement, including CCIPS's recommendation that prosecutors obtain registration certificates before trial, is discussed in Section II.B.. of this Chapter.
Works created in 1978 or later are protected by copyright for the life of the author plus 70 years. See 17 U.S.C. § 302(a). For a work with one or more joint authors, the life of the surviving author is used. § 302(b). Works made for hire (e.g., works made by or at the behest of a corporation) and anonymous works are protected for 95 years from the date of first publication, or 120 years from creation (whichever comes first). 17 U.S.C. § 302(c). Most pre-1978 works are protected for 95 years from the date that copyright was first secured (generally their date of publication). 17 U.S.C. § 304.
To be continued.
Source: web-site of U.S. Department of Justice. Prosecuting Intellectual Property Crimes, Third Edition. September 2006: