The former Assistant Register of Copyrights in the United States, Richard DeWolf, aptly pointed out in 1925:  


“The progress of copyright law does not take place by revolutions, but by successive stages. It resembles the growth of a city, in which, as time goes on, some parts are torn down and others are devoted to new uses, while the plan remains the same and the great historic structures are preserved.”



A later Register of the US Copyright Office in their report to Congress in 1961 on the revisions of the Copyright Act of 1909 stated: 


“. . . the changes in technology during the last half century that have affected the operation of the copyright law.  Commercial radio and television were unknown in 1909.  Motion pictures and sound recordings were in a rudimentary stage. New technique for reproducing printed matter and recorded sounds have since come into use.   These and other technical advances have brought in new industries and new methods for reproduction and dissemination of . . . the subject matter of copyright.  And the business relations between creators and use of copyright materials have evolved into new patterns.”


 The US Supreme Court similarly observed: 


“From its beginning, the law of Copyright has developed in response to significant changes in technology.  Indeed, it was the invention of a new form of copyright equipment – the printing press – that gave rise to the original need for copyright protection.  Repeatedly, as new developments have occurred in this country, it has been the Congress that has fashioned the new rules that new technology made necessary.”



Copyright law has progressed since the beginning according to developments in technology and the progression of the arts and innovation. 


As observed in his testimony before Congress, former Register of Copyrights Abraham Kaminstein stated:


“As the founders of this country were wise enough to see, the most important elements of any civilization include its independent creators – its authors, composers and artists – who create as a matter of personal initiative and spontaneous expression rather than as a result of patronage or subsidy. A strong, practical copyright is the only assurance we have that this creative activity will continue.”


[1] Richard DeWolf, An Outline of Copyright Law,(1925), viii.

[2] Sony Corp, of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc. 464 U.S. 417, 430 (1984).

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