U.S. State Copyright Laws: Challenge and Potential


With copyright law in the United States lying primarily in the realm of federal law, the laws of the U.S. states concerning copyright do not typically attract significant attention from scholars, practitioners, and policy makers. Some recent events have drawn attention to state copyright laws—for example, litigation against a satellite radio provider for infringement of state common-law public performance rights in pre-1972 sound recordings. However, in general, state copyright laws remain largely in the shadow of federal copyright law, and state law is typically not viewed as a particularly useful vehicle for pursuing the policies that copyright law should support. Yet, when used effectively, state copyright law, together with state law in other areas such as contract, tax, employment, and environmental law, may assist states in promoting state interests in innovation and creativity. This article explores the limits of state law concerning copyright and uses four copyright-related statutes of the State of Nevada to analyze problems that arise in current state copyright law. State legislatures should not only remedy the problems in state copyright law but should revise state laws to best benefit statesinterests in innovation policies, taking into account developments in intellectual property law. The article reviews some of the developments that should be on the radar of state legislators as they revise their statescopyright laws.


Stanford University Stanford, California
  • Marketa Trimble, U.S. State Copyright Laws: Challenge and Potential, 20 Stan. Tech. L. Rev. 66 (2017).
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