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Copyright Act of 1831
Full title An Act to Amend the Several Acts Respecting Copyrights
Effective February 3, 1831
Stat. 4 Stat. 436
Legislative history
Major amendments
Relevant Supreme Court cases

The Copyright Act of 1831 was the first general revision to United States copyright law. The bill is largely the result of lobbying efforts by American lexicographer Noah Webster.

The key changes in the Act included:

  • Extension of the original copyright term from 14 years to 28 years, with an option to renew the copyright for another 14 years
  • Addition of musical compositions to the list of statutorily protected works (though this protection only extended to reproductions of compositions in printed form; the public performance right was not recognized until later)
  • Extension of the statute of limitations on copyright actions from one year to two
  • Changes in copyright formality requirements

See also


  • 1 Patry, William (2009), Patry on Copyright § 1:23
  • Bracha, O. (2008) ‘Commentary on the U.S. Copyright Act 1831', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

External links


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