IDEA: The Intellectual Property Law Journal
This Article tackles the question of when a work distributed over the Internet is published as a matter of copyright law. Copyright publication doctrine retains significant practical importance and can have a dispositive impact on the economic value of a work. Publication can also determine whether a court has jurisdiction over a copyright claim. For many twentieth century works, publication with observance of formalities was required if copyrights were to attach to creative works at all. Publication remains relevant in determining the length of copyright protection, but duration is far from the only copyright issue that turns on this concept. The federal Copyright Act repeatedly references publication for many other purposes. Year by year, works dependent on the publication doctrine for their duration are entering the public domain. As the works of the twentieth century enter the public domain, the issue of copyright publication will fade from importance for purposes of duration analysis, and the relative impact of the doctrine will be experienced more forcefully with respect to other issues. Therefore, it is time for research on the copyright publication doctrine to shift its focus from duration to other copyright issues.