17 U.S. Code § 106 - Exclusive rights in copyrighted works
The approach of the bill is to set forth the copyright owner’s exclusive rights in broad terms in section 106, and then to provide various limitations, qualifications, or exemptions in the 12 sections that follow. Thus, everything in section 106 is made “subject to sections 107 through 118”, and must be read in conjunction with those provisions.
The exclusive rights accorded to a copyright owner under section 106 are “to do and to authorize” any of the activities specified in the five numbered clauses. Use of the phrase “to authorize” is intended to avoid any questions as to the liability of contributory infringers. For example, a person who lawfully acquires an authorized copy of a motion picture would be an infringer if he or she engages in the business of renting it to others for purposes of unauthorized public performance.
“Reproduction” under clause (1) of section 106 is to be distinguished from “display” under clause (5). For a work to be “reproduced,” its fixation in tangible form must be “sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration.” Thus, the showing of images on a screen or tube would not be a violation of clause (1), although it might come within the scope of clause (5).
To be an infringement the “derivative work” must be “based upon the copyrighted work,” and the definition in section 101 refers to “a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted.” Thus, to constitute a violation of section 106(2), the infringing work must incorporate a portion of the copyrighted work in some form; for example, a detailed commentary on a work or a programmatic musical composition inspired by a novel would not normally constitute infringements under this clause.
This approach is more reasonable than the outright exemption of the 1909 statute. The line between commercial and “nonprofit” organizations is increasingly difficult to draw. Many “non-profit” organizations are highly subsidized and capable of paying royalties, and the widespread public exploitation of copyrighted works by public broadcasters and other noncommercial organizations is likely to grow. In addition to these trends, it is worth noting that performances and displays are continuing to supplant markets for printed copies and that in the future a broad “not for profit” exemption could not only hurt authors but could dry up their incentive to write.
The exclusive right of public performance is expanded to include not only motion pictures, including works recorded on film, video tape, and video disks, but also audiovisual works such as filmstrips and sets of slides. This provision of section 106(4), which is consistent with the assimilation of motion pictures to audiovisual works throughout the bill, is also related to amendments of the definitions of “display” and “perform” discussed below. The important issue of performing rights in sound recordings is discussed in connection with section 114.
To “perform” a work, under the definition in section 101, includes reading a literary work aloud, singing or playing music, dancing a ballet or other choreographic work, and acting out a dramatic work or pantomime. A performance may be accomplished “either directly or by means of any device or process,” including all kinds of equipment for reproducing or amplifying sounds or visual images, any sort of transmitting apparatus, any type of electronic retrieval system, and any other techniques and systems not yet in use or even invented.
The definition of “perform” in relation to “a motion picture or other audiovisual work” is “to show its images in any sequence or to make the sounds accompanying it audible.” The showing of portions of a motion picture, filmstrip, or slide set must therefore be sequential to constitute a “performance” rather than a “display”, but no particular order need be maintained. The purely aural performance of a motion picture sound track, or of the sound portions of an audiovisual work, would constitute a performance of the “motion picture or other audiovisual work”; but, where some of the sounds have been reproduced separately on phonorecords, a performance from the phonorecord would not constitute performance of the motion picture or audiovisual work.
The corresponding definition of “display” covers any showing of a “copy” of the work, “either directly or by means of a film, slide, television image, or any other device or process.” Since “copies” are defined as including the material object “in which the work is first fixed,” the right of public display applies to original works of art as well as to reproductions of them. With respect to motion pictures and other audiovisual works, it is a “display” (rather than a “performance”) to show their “individual images nonsequentially.” In addition to the direct showings of a copy of a work, “display” would include the projection of an image on a screen or other surface by any method, the transmission of an image by electronic or other means, and the showing of an image on a cathode ray tube, or similar viewing apparatus connected with any sort of information storage and retrieval system.
Under clause (1) of the definition of “publicly” in section 101, a performance or display is “public” if it takes place “at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered.” One of the principal purposes of the definition was to make clear that, contrary to the decision in
Clause (2) of the definition of “publicly” in section 101 makes clear that the concepts of public performance and public display include not only performances and displays that occur initially in a public place, but also acts that transmit or otherwise communicate a performance or display of the work to the public by means of any device or process. The definition of “transmit”—to communicate a performance or display “by any device or process whereby images or sound are received beyond the place from which they are sent”—is broad enough to include all conceivable forms and combinations of wired or wireless communications media, including but by no means limited to radio and television broadcasting as we know them. Each and every method by which the images or sounds comprising a performance or display are picked up and conveyed is a “transmission,” and if the transmission reaches the public in my [any] form, the case comes within the scope of clauses (4) or (5) of section 106.
Under the bill, as under the present law, a performance made available by transmission to the public at large is “public” even though the recipients are not gathered in a single place, and even if there is no proof that any of the potential recipients was operating his receiving apparatus at the time of the transmission. The same principles apply whenever the potential recipients of the transmission represent a limited segment of the public, such as the occupants of hotel rooms or the subscribers of a cable television service. Clause (2) of the definition of “publicly” is applicable “whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance or display receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times.”
2002—Pub. L. 107–273 substituted “122” for “121” in introductory provisions.
1999—Pub. L. 106–44 substituted “121” for “120” in introductory provisions.
1995—Par. (6). Pub. L. 104–39 added par. (6).
1990—Pub. L. 101–650 substituted “120” for “119” in introductory provisions.
Pub. L. 101–318 substituted “119” for “118” in introductory provisions.
Amendment by Pub. L. 101–650 applicable to any architectural work created on or after Dec. 1, 1990, and any architectural work, that, on Dec. 1, 1990, is unconstructed and embodied in unpublished plans or drawings, except that protection for such architectural work under this title terminates on Dec. 31, 2002, unless the work is constructed by that date, see section 706 of Pub. L. 101–650, set out as a note under section 101 of this title.