On past Presidents’ Days, we have discussed the critical roles in the development of U.S. copyright law played by Abraham Lincoln (who extended copyright protection to photographs) and George Washington (whose correspondence was at the center of the dispute that gave rise to the fair use doctrine). This year, it’s Gerald Ford’s turn to ascend to our Mount Rushmore of Copyright.… More
Tag Archives: George Washington
Alexander Hamilton has more to do with American independence than you might think. His efforts as a Founding Father (the hottest Founding Father on Broadway, it should be noted) helped the United States achieve political independence from Great Britain. But Hamilton also made a vital contribution towards helping the American justice system declare jurisprudential independence from the English courts, particularly with regard to defamation and free speech.… More
We’ve taken advantage of past Presidents Days to recount George Washington’s role in the history of U.S. Copyright law, specifically the birth of fair use. That role was not insubstantial, but it was posthumous and, therefore, unwitting. By contrast, Abraham Lincoln’s contribution to copyright law was likely quite intentional.
On March 3, 1865, President Lincoln signed into law “An Act to Amend Several Acts Respecting Copyright,” the galley of which contained the subheading: “Photographs … may be copyrighted.” This was the first U.S.… More
George Washington is responsible for a lot of “firsts.” For example, he was the first President, the first Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army and the first guy to have the George Washington bridge named after him. But President Washington was also indirectly responsible for what is widely regarded as the first American application of the copyright doctrine of fair use.
Jared Sparks, Charles Upham and the Washington Letters
When Washington died in 1799,… More