Today in Copyright History: 8/18

On August 18, 1787, founding father and future president James Madison submitted a provision to the framers of the U.S. Constitution to “secure to literary authors their copyrights for a limited time.”  Adopted in amended form as Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the Constitution, this language became known as the Copyright Clause, and provides the constitutional basis of U.S. copyright law.

69 years later, on August 18, 1856, copyright protection was extended to dramatic compositions, including, for the first time, the right of public performance.  From the History of Copyright Timeline at the U.S. Copyright Office.

By John Vanderlyn (1775–1852) [Public domain], via  Wikimedia Commons .

By John Vanderlyn (1775–1852) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.