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To reproduce (also duplicate) means to make a copy.

U.S. copyright law[]

The fundamental right to reproduce copyrighted works in copies and phonorecords[1] is implicated in innumerable online transactions. Indeed, because of the nature of computer-to-computer communications, reproduction is implicated in most online transactions. For example, when a computer user accesses a document resident on another computer, the image on the user's screen exists only by virtue of the copy that is reproduced in the user's computer memory. It has long been clear under U.S. law that the placement of copyrighted material into a computer's memory is a reproduction of that material (because the work in memory then may be, in the law's terms, "perceived, reproduced, or . . . communicated . . . with the aid of a machine or device").[2]

The 1976 Copyright Act, its legislative history, the CONTU Final Report, and repeated holdings by courts make it clear that in each of the instances set out below, one or more copies is made.[3]


  1. 17 U.S.C. §101.
  2. In 1978, the CONTU Final Report noted, "[T]he application of principles already embodied in the language of the [current] copyright law achieves the desired substantive legal protection for copyrighted works which exist in machine-readable form. The introduction of a work into a computer memory would, consistent with the [current] law, be a reproduction of the work, one of the exclusive rights of the copyright proprietor." CONTU Final Report, at 40. See also MAI Sys. Corp. v. Peak Computer, Inc., 991 F.2d 511, 519 (9th Cir. 1993) (full-text), cert. dism., 510 U.S. 1033 (1994).; Vault Corp. v. Quaid Software Ltd., 847 F.2d 255, 260 (5th Cir. 1988) (full-text); Advanced Computer Servs. v. MAI Sys. Corp., 845 F. Supp. 356 (E.D. Va. 1994) (full-text); Triad Sys. Corp. v. Southeastern Express Co., 64 F.3d 1330 (9th Cir. 1995) (full-text).
  3. That copying has occurred does not necessarily mean that infringement has occurred. When copying is (1) authorized by the copyright owner, (2) exempt from liability as a fair use, (3) otherwise exempt under the provisions of Sections 108-19 or Chapter 10 of the Copyright Act, or (4) of such a small amount as to be de minimis, then there is no infringement liability.
  4. See, e.g., MAI Sys., 991 F.2d at 519.
  5. For example, if an author transfers a file (such as a manuscript) to a publisher with an Internet account, copies will typically, at a minimum, be made (a) in the author's Internet server, (b) in the publisher's Internet server, (c) in the publisher's local area network server, and (d) in the editor's computer. It has been suggested that such "copying" of files in intermediate servers is only of transitory duration and consequently not covered by the reproduction right. However, it is clear that if the "copy" exists for more than a period of transitory duration, the reproduction right is implicated. Whether such reproduction is an infringement would be a separate determination.