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This article is about the definition of the terms publish and publication in copyright law. For more general discussion, see publishing.

To publish is to make content available to the general public.[1][2] While specific use of the term may vary among countries, it is usually applied to text, images, or other audio-visual content on any traditional medium, including paper (newspapers, magazines, catalogs, etc.). The word publication means the act of publishing, and also refers to any printed copies.

Legal definition and copyright[edit]

"Publication" is a technical term in legal contexts and especially important in copyright legislation. An author of a work generally is the initial owner of the copyright on the work. One of the copyrights granted to the author of a work is the exclusive right to publish the work.

In the United States, publication is defined as:

the distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending. The offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display, constitutes publication. A public performance or display of a work does not of itself constitute publication.
To perform or display a work "publicly" means –
(1) to perform or display it at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered; or
(2) to transmit or otherwise communicate a performance or display of the work to a place specified by clause (1) or to the public, by means of any device or process, whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance or display receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times.
17 USC 101

Furthermore, the right to publish a work is an exclusive right of the copyright owner (17 USC 106), and violating this right (e.g. by disseminating copies of the work without the copyright owner's consent) is a copyright infringement (17 USC 501(a)), and the copyright owner can demand (by suing in court) that e.g. copies distributed against his will be confiscated and destroyed (17 USC 502, 17 USC 503).

The definition of "publication" as "distribution of copies to the general public with the consent of the author" is also supported by the Berne Convention, which makes mention of "copies" in article 3(3), where "published works" are defined.[1] In the Universal Copyright Convention, "publication" is defined in article VI as "the reproduction in tangible form and the general distribution to the public of copies of a work from which it can be read or otherwise visually perceived."[2] Many countries around the world follow this definition, although some make some exceptions for particular kinds of works. In Germany, §6 of the Urheberrechtsgesetz additionally considers works of the visual arts (such as sculptures) "published" if they have been made permanently accessible by the general public (i.e., erecting a sculpture on public grounds is publication in Germany).[3] Australia and the UK (as the U.S.) do not have this exception and generally require the distribution of copies necessary for publication. In the case of sculptures, the copies must be even three-dimensional.[4][5]

Biological classification[edit]

In biological classification (taxonomy), the publication of the description of a taxon has to comply with some rules. The definition of the "publication" is defined in nomenclature codes. Traditionally there were the following rules:

  • The publication must be generally available.
  • The date of publication is the date the published material became generally available.

Electronic publication with some restrictions is permitted for publication of scientific names of fungi since 1 January 2013.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Berne Convention, article 3(3). URL last accessed 2010-05-10.
  2. ^ a b Universal Copyright Convention, Gevena text (1952), article VI. URL last accessed 2010-05-10.
  3. ^ German UrhG, §6, in German. URL last accessed 2007-05-29.
  4. ^ Australian Copyright Act, section 29: Publication. URL last accessed 2007-05-29.
  5. ^ Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (c. 48), section 175, Copyright law of the United Kingdom. URL last accessed 2007-05-29.
  6. ^ Hawksworth, D. L. (2011). "A new dawn for the naming of fungi: impacts of decisions made in Melbourne in July 2011 on the future publication and regulation of fungal names". MycoKeys 1: 7–20. doi:10.3897/mycokeys.1.2062. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publication — Please support Wikipedia.
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