Publication Law and Legal Definition

Publication is subject to different meanings. In one sense, it refers to anything publicly circulated in print as in a newspaper, magazine, pamphlet, letter, telegram, computer modem or program, poster, brochure or pamphlet, orally, or by broadcast on radio or television. It may also mean placing a legal notice in an approved newspaper of general publication in the county or district in which the law requires such notice to be published. Laws vary by jurisdiction on the duration and other requirements of publication. In the context of defamation (libel and slander), publication means a falsehood about another communicated to at least one single person.

Publication is an important concept in the copyright law for several reasons:

Works that are published in the United States are subject to mandatory deposit with the Library of Congress.

Publication of a work can affect the limitations on the exclusive rights of the copyright owner.

The year of publication may determine the duration of copyright protection for anonymous and pseudonymous works (when the author's identity is not revealed in the records of the Copyright Office) and for works made for hire.

Deposit requirements for registration of published works differ from those for registration of unpublished works.

When a work is published, it may bear a notice of copyright to identify the year of publication and the name of the copyright owner and to inform the public that the work is protected by copyright. Copies of works published before March 1, 1989, must bear the notice or risk loss of copyright protection.