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NAFTA and its Affect On Copyright Protection

The North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act revived copyright protection in certain motion pictures whose country of origin is a NAFTA signatory. In order for the copyright to be revived, the copyright to the motion picture must have entered the public domain in the United States because it was published on or after January 1, 1978, and before March 1, 1989, without the notice required under the Copyright Act of 1976 as originally enacted. The revived copyright has the term that it would have had, were it not to have lapsed in the first place.

Therefore, one should pay particular attention to the copyright date of foreign films which had fallen into the public domain due to failure to provide notice. The copyright in such works is now enforceable, meaning that copying, including the production of a derivative work based on the motion picture, is a violation of one of the exclusive rights of copyright of the original owner.

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