U.S. copyright protection became available for motion pictures on August 24, 1912, and on September 12, 1912, the first motion picture registration was issued to Republic Film Company for the Pierce Kingsley film “Black Sheep’s Wool” (see an earlier post on this subject here).
39 years later, on September 12, 1951, Arthur Fisher was appointed the fifth Register of Copyrights. Fisher, a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, taught constitutional law at the University of Montana, was editor of a newspaper, partner in a Chicago law firm, and held various positions in government before joining the Copyright Office as associate register in 1946. An authority on both national and international copyright law, Fisher sought to expand the international protection of literary property, and led the drive that made the United States an adherent, for the first time, to a world-wide copyright agreement, the Universal Copyright Convention in 1955. Fisher obtained funding from Congress for a series of 34 studies of U.S. copyright law that examined the current law and comparable laws of foreign countries and international conventions, analyzed numerous issues, and suggested various solutions. Prepared under his direction, these studies provided the groundwork for the general revision of the U.S. law that ultimately resulted in the landmark Copyright Act of 1976. From the History of Copyright Timeline at the U.S. Copyright Office.