Notices of Restored Copyrights


In 1996, copyright was automatically restored in certain foreign works that were then in the public domain in the United States but were protected by copyright or neighboring rights in the source country. Owners of a restored work were directed to notify reliance parties if the owner of the rights planned to enforce the rights. One means of notification was filing with the Copyright Office a Notice of Intent to Enforce (NIE) a Restored Copyright.


The Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA) of 1994 implements the Uruguay Round General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), which includes an agreement on the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS). Several provisions of the URAA amend the U.S. copyright law at 17 U.S.C. 104A, 109(b); the URAA also adds a new Chapter 11 to title 17 and a new section 2319(a) to title 18. The effective date for restoration of copyright for works from countries that are currently eligible is January 1, 1996.


For further details, see the following:


North American Free Trade Agreement

On January 1, 1994, a Free Trade Agreement known as the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA” or “Agreement”) went into force between the United States, Canada, and Mexico.  Included among the many trade terms in the Agreement is a chapter on intellectual property.  North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”), U.S. –Can. –Mex., pt. 6, ch. 17, Dec. 17, 1992, 32 I.L.M. 289 (1993).  As they relate to copyright law, NAFTA’s intellectual property terms require each member nation to fulfill its obligations under key international agreements, including the Berne Convention and the Geneva Convention.  NAFTA, at art. 1701.  The Berne Convention provides, among other things, copyright protection free from any condition, including formalities such as notice and registration.  Between January 1, 1978, and March 1, 1989, prior to joining Berne, the United States required all published works to bear notice of copyright in order for any such works to receive copyright protection; without such notice, a published work fell into the public domain.


Under NAFTA, the United States agreed to restore copyrights in certain motion pictures published in Mexico and Canada without copyright notices on or after January 1, 1978, and before March 1, 1989.  NAFTA, U.S. –Can. –Mex., pt. 6, ch. 17 (Annex 1705.7), Dec. 17, 1992, 32 I.L.M. 289 (1993).  In order to benefit from this term, copyright owners of such motion pictures had to file with the United States Copyright Office statements of their intent to restore copyright protection.  The filing period was from January 1, 1994, to January 1, 1995, and the copyrights were restored effective January 1, 1995.  A list of motion pictures restored under NAFTA is available at http://www.copyright.gov/fedreg/1995/60fr8252.html.  See 60 Fed. Reg. 8252 (Feb. 13, 1995).  Copies of the statements are available at http://www.copyright.gov/docs/nafta/NAFTA_V5000_p0001.


Though the period for filing these statements of intent to restore copyright protection has expired, copyright owners who filed such statements of intent may continue to file registration applications for any copyright restored under NAFTA.  For more information on copyright in restored works, see 17 U.S.C. § 104A.