What is the Difference Between Published and unpublished?

Publication under the first part of the definition is rather straightforward. Publication under the second part is a bit more complicated. Generally, publication occurs on the date on which copies of the work are first made available to the public. Unpublished works are those which have not been distributed in any manner.

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

  • Published works in the United States are subject to mandatory deposit in the Library of Congress;
  • Unpublished works are eligible for protection without regard to the nationality or where the author lives;
  • Published works must bear a copyright notice if published before March 1, 1989;
  • Certain limitations on the rights of a copyright owner are applicable only to published Works; and
  • The duration of protection for works made for hire may be determined by the date of publication.

Publication under the first part of the definition is rather straightforward. Publication under the second part is a bit more complicated. Generally, publication occurs on the date on which copies of the work are first made available to the public. Unpublished works are those which have not been distributed in any manner.

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

  • Unpublished works are eligible for protection without regard to the nationality or where the author lives;
  • Published works must bear a copyright notice if published before March 1, 1989;
  • Certain limitations on the rights of a copyright owner are applicable only to published Works; and
  • The duration of protection for works made for hire may be determined by the date of publication.

Note: On date of first publication, one or more of the authors is a national or domiciliary of the United States, or is a national, domiciliary, or sovereign  authority of a treaty party* or is a stateless person wherever that person may be domiciled; The work is first published in the United States or in foreign nation that, on the date of first publication, is a  treaty party. For purposes of this condition, a work that is published in the United States or a treaty party within 30 days after publication in a foreign nation that is not a treaty party shall be considered to be first published in the United States or such treaty party, as the case may be; or The work is a sound recording that was first fixed in a treaty party; or The work is a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work that is incorporated in a building or other structure, or an architectural work that is embodied in a building and the building or structure is located in the United States or a treaty party; or The work is first published by the United Nations or any of its specialized agencies, or by the Organization of American States; or The work is a foreign work that was in the public domain in the United States prior to 1996 and its copyright was restored under the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA).

See Circular 38b, Highlights of Copyright Amendments Contained in the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA-GATT), for further information. The work comes within the scope of a Presidential proclamation.

A Treaty party is a country or intergovernmental organization other than the United States that is a party to an international agreement.