Copyright & Intellectual Property Titles at the State Law Library

May 31, 2022


The first federal copyright law went into effect on this date in 1790! Today, intellectual property is a vast area of law, with numerous federal statutes and regulations on patents, trademarks, and copyrights. To celebrate the anniversary of the first federal copyright law, here's a bit of background and a quick guide to titles in our library's collection on copyright and intellectual property.

The Copyright Act of 1790

The Copyright Act of 1790 was signed into law by President George Washington on May 31st, 1790. The Act gave authors who were U.S. citizens the right to publish, print, and re-print any maps, charts, or books that they had created for a period of fourteen years. The author was required to register their work with their local United States District Court. After the fourteen-year period had passed, the copyright holder had the option to renew the rights for an additional fourteen years. You can see a copy of the original Copyright Act of 1790 and read the text on the United States Copyright Office's website.

Author John Barry holds the first copyright entry under the law with his book The Philadelphia Spelling Book. Barry registered the book on June 9th, 1790, in the U.S. District Court of Pennsylvania. The Library of Congress has a copy in its collection and you can view the first few pages of this title on their website.

There have obviously been a lot of changes and developments in this area of law since 1790! If you'd like to get better acquainted with the lay of the land in current intellectual property law, the library has you covered.

Continuing Legal Education (CLEs) on Intellectual Property Law

If you're an attorney in need of CLE credit or just want to study up on some of the latest developments, be sure to look at the library's CLE courses on intellectual property law. Courses after 2017 are available online, so you can check out a recent course on patent litigation or get a full overview of intellectual property from your home or office.

If you're interested in a CLE article that's not available online, let us know! We may be able to provide it through our document delivery service

E-Books at the State Law Library

The library's Digital Collection includes a number of titles on copyright law and intellectual property. Attorneys or law students interested in the history and practice of copyright and intellectual property may want to start with Copyright Law in a Nutshell for a quick overview or dig into Global Internet Law for a thorough explanation of copyrighted works on the internet (found in Chapter 10).

There are also several titles on copyright and intellectual property available from Nolo, a legal publisher that specializes in books on legal topics for non-lawyers. These titles include:

The Copyright Handbook: What Every Writer Needs to Know

Aimed at authors interested in learning how to protect their work, this e-book breaks down the basics of the copyright process like registering and transferring ownership. Sample forms for these processes and others are also included. 

Getting Permission: How to License & Clear Copyrighted Materials Online & Off

This e-book is especially helpful for folks with questions about using copyrighted material legally. Concepts like fair use, the public domain, and academic and educational permissions are covered in detail. This e-book also has sample permission agreement forms for various types of copyrighted works, including artwork, photographs, and text.

Patent, Copyright & Trademark: An Intellectual Property Desk Reference

Intellectual property is a multifaceted area of law that includes patents, trademarks, trade secrets, and copyrights. This e-book explains how these concepts overlap and includes a detailed chapter on each area of IP law.

The Public Domain: Find and Use Free Content for your Website, Book, App, Music, Video, Art, and More

Works in the public domain belong to the public and can be freely used by anyone. This Nolo title is a good place to start for anyone interested in finding free material for their creative or professional projects.

Got a question about copyright law or need help finding materials? Feel free to ask us!

Texas Laws on Purchasing and Carrying Firearms

Happy Pride Month!

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