The U.S. Copyright Act, is Federal legislation enacted by Congress under its Constitutional grant of authority to protect the writings of authors. Changing technology has led to an ever expanding understanding of the word "writings." The Copyright Act now reaches architectural design, software, the graphic arts, motion pictures, and sound recordings. As of January 1, 1978, all works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression and within the subject matter of copyright were deemed to fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Copyright Act regardless of whether the work was created before or after that date and whether published or unpublished.
The owner of a copyright has the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, perform, display, license, and to prepare derivative works based on the copyrighted work. See § 106. The exclusive rights of the copyright owner are subject to limitation by the doctrine of "fair use." See § 107. Fair use of a copyrighted work for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research is not copyright infringement. To determine whether or not a particular use qualifies as fair use, courts apply a multi-factor balancing test.
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