Copyright Act Amendment, Washington D.C. (1856)

Source: Library of Congress: 11 Stat. 138

Copyright Act Amendment, Washington D.C. (1856), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

Back | Record | Images | Commentaries: [1]
Record-ID: us_1856

Permanent link:

Full title:
An Act supplemental to an Act entitled An Act to amend the several acts respecting Copyright, approved February third, eighteen hundred and thirty - one

Full title original language:

An amendment to the Copyright Act that added for the first time in America a public performance entitlement in dramatic works. The commentary describes the origins of the agitation by playwrights for an exclusive public performance right in plays, the early lobbying efforts, and the campaign that led to the 1856 amendment. It concludes by briefly discussing how the new entitlement contributed to the general shift of copyright's intellectual framework from a limited textual reprint right to a general protection of an intellectual work.

1 Commentary:

  • McConachie, Bruce A. Melodramatic Formations: American Theater and Society, 1820-1870. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1992.

  • Foust, Clement E. The Life and Dramatic Works of Robert Montgomery Bird. New York: The Knickerbocker Press, 1919.

  • Bradley, Edward Sculley. George Henry Boker, Poet and Patriot. London: Oxford University Press, 1927.

Related documents in this database:
1833: Dramatic Literary Property Act
1831: Copyright Act
1841: S. 227 (Dramatic Works Public Performance Bill)
1844: H.R. 9 (Ingersoll Bill)
1870: Committee Report on S.703
1885: Carte v. Duff
1897: Copyright Act (Public Performance of Musical Compositions)

Author: N/A

Publisher: N/A

Year: 1856

Location: Washington D.C.

Language: English

Source: Library of Congress: 11 Stat. 138

Persons referred to:

Places referred to:

Cases referred to:

Institutions referred to:
U.S. Congress
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Senate

U.S. Copyright Act 1831, 21st Cong., 2d Sess., 4 Stat. 436
U.S. Copyright Amendment Act 1856, 11 Stat. 138

dramatic works, protected subject matter
penalties, paid to author(s)
public performance

Responsible editor: Oren Bracha

Copyright History resource developed in partnership with:

Our Partners

Copyright statement

You may copy and distribute the translations and commentaries in this resource, or parts of such translations and commentaries, in any medium, for non-commercial purposes as long as the authorship of the commentaries and translations is acknowledged, and you indicate the source as Bently & Kretschmer (eds), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900) (

With the exception of commentaries that are available under a CC-BY licence (compliant with UKRI policy) you may not publish individual documents or parts of the database for any commercial purposes, including charging a fee for providing access to these documents via a network. This licence does not affect your statutory rights of fair dealing.

Although the original documents in this database are in the public domain, we are unable to grant you the right to reproduce or duplicate some of these documents in so far as the images or scans are protected by copyright or we have only been able to reproduce them here by giving contractual undertakings. For the status of any particular images, please consult the information relating to copyright in the bibliographic records.

Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900) is co-published by Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, 10 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DZ, UK and CREATe, School of Law, University of Glasgow, 10 The Square, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK