Student Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Spring 4-30-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Honors Designation


Program of Study




First Advisor

Elizabeth Wollman


This paper seeks to establish the reasons why federal copyright protection was created, discuss the shifts in reasoning behind major amendments, and explore its effects on copyright holders and the public, with a slight focus on the music industry. Federal copyright has existed in the United States since the late 1700s, with the creation of the Copyright Act in 1790. Adopted from the first copyright law ever created, the English Statute of Anne (1710), the Copyright Act was meant to protect citizens from piracy in a world where the risk of such a thing was rapidly increasing. The stated objective of the Copyright Act was to encourage learning by securing the copies of printed works, and to give authors the sole right to print, reproduce, publish, and vend those works for a limit of fourteen years. Over time, this act has been amended to include protections for different media, as well as to extend copyright duration and to modify its objectives. Today, copyright protects essentially all physical expressions of works of authorship and lasts for up to 70 years after the creator’s death; a term much greater than the original term of 1790.


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