common-law copyrightA property right that arose when the work was created, rather than when it was published.
? Under the Copyright Act of 1976, which was effective on January 1, 1978, common-law copyright was largely abolished for works created after the statute’s effective date. But the statute retained the common law’s recognition that the property right arose when the work was created rather than when it was published. And the common-law copyright still applies in a few areas: notably, a common-law copyright received before January 1, 1978, remains entitled to protection.
¡ª Also termed right of first publication.