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To publish is to make content available to the general public. [1] [2] While specific use of the term may vary among countries, it is usually applied to text, images, or other audio-visual content, including paper (newspapers, magazines, catalogs, etc.). The word publication means the act of publishing, and also any printed copies issued for public distribution.


"Publication" is a technical term in legal contexts and especially important in copyright legislation. An author of a work generally is the initial owner of the copyright on the work. One of the copyrights granted to the author of a work is the exclusive right to publish the work.


In Indonesia, publication is defined as:

any reading, broadcasting, exhibition of works using any means, either electronically or nonelectronically, or performing in any way so that works can be read, heard, or seen by others.
Article 1, Law of the Republic of Indonesia Number 28 of 2014

United States

In the United States, publication is defined as:

the distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending. The offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of people for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display, constitutes publication. A public performance or display of a work does not of itself constitute publication.
To perform or display a work "publicly" means
(1) to perform or display it at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of people outside a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered; or
(2) to transmit or otherwise communicate a performance or display of the work to a place specified by clause (1) or to the public, by means of any device or process, whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance or display receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times.
17 USC 101
The US Copyright Office provides further guidance in Circular 40 , which states: "When the work is reproduced in multiple copies, such as in reproductions of a painting or castings of a statue, the work is published when the reproductions are publicly distributed or offered to a group for further distribution or public display".

Generally, the right to publish a work is an exclusive right of copyright owner (17 USC 106), and violating this right (e.g. by disseminating copies of the work without the copyright owner's consent) is a copyright infringement (17 USC 501(a)), and the copyright owner can demand (by suing in court) that e.g. copies distributed against their will be confiscated and destroyed (17 USC 502, 17 USC 503). Exceptions and limitations are written into copyright law, however; for example, the exclusive rights of the copyright owner eventually expire, and even when in force, they don't extend to publications covered by fair use or certain types of uses by libraries and educational institutions.

The definition of "publication" as "distribution of copies to the general public with the consent of the author" is also supported by the Berne Convention, which makes mention of "copies" in article 3(3), where "published works" are defined. [1] In the Universal Copyright Convention, "publication" is defined in article VI as "the reproduction in tangible form and the general distribution to the public of copies of a work from which it can be read or otherwise visually perceived." [2] Many countries around the world follow this definition, although some make some exceptions for particular kinds of works. In Germany, §6 of the Urheberrechtsgesetz additionally considers works of the visual arts (such as sculptures) "published" if they have been made permanently accessible by the general public (i.e., erecting a sculpture on public grounds is publication in Germany). [3] Australia and the UK (as the U.S.) do not have this exception and generally require the distribution of copies necessary for publication. In the case of sculptures, the copies must be even three-dimensional. [4] [5]

Biological classification

In biological classification (taxonomy), the publication of the description of a taxon has to comply with some rules. The definition of the "publication" is defined in nomenclature codes. Traditionally there were the following rules:

Electronic publication with some restrictions is permitted for publication of scientific names of fungi since 1 January 2013. [6]


Material types

There is an enormous variety of material types of publication, some of which are:

Electronic publishing

Internet Map Visualization Internet map 1024.jpg
Internet Map Visualization

Electronic publishing (also referred to as e-publishing or digital publishing or online publishing) includes the digital publication of e-books, digital magazines, and the development of digital libraries and catalogues. Electronic publishing has become common. It is also becoming common to distribute books, magazines, and newspapers to consumers through digital devices, by online sources.

Modern computing and networking have revolutionized publishing. Moody Hall computer lab.jpg
Modern computing and networking have revolutionized publishing.
Server rack, delivering data to inquiries. Computer server rack.jpg
Server rack, delivering data to inquiries.

Content types

Types of publication can also be distinguished by content:

Unpublished works

A work that has not undergone publication, and thus is not generally available to the public, or for citation in scholarly or legal contexts, is called an unpublished work. In some cases unpublished works are widely cited, or circulated via informal means. [7] An author who has not yet published a work may also be referred to as being unpublished.

The status of being unpublished has specific significance in the legal context, where it may refer to the non-publication of legal opinions in the United States

Related Research Articles

Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to copy and distribute a creative work, usually for a limited time. The creative work may be in a literary, artistic, educational, or musical form. Copyright is intended to protect the original expression of an idea in the form of a creative work, but not the idea itself. A copyright is subject to limitations based on public interest considerations, such as the fair use doctrine in the United States.

Publishing Process of production and dissemination of literature, music, or information

Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the creation and distribution of printed works, such as books, newspapers, and magazines. With the advent of digital information systems, the scope has expanded to include electronic publishing such as ebooks, academic journals, micropublishing, websites, blogs, video game publishing, and the like.

Electronic publishing includes the digital publication of e-books, digital magazines, and the development of digital libraries and catalogues. It also includes an editorial aspect, that consists of editing books, journals or magazines that are mostly destined to be read on a screen.

A work of the United States government, as defined by the United States copyright law, is "a work prepared by an officer or employee" of the federal government "as part of that person's official duties." In general, under section 105 of the Copyright Act, such works are not entitled to domestic copyright protection under U.S. law and are therefore in the public domain.

The bibliographical definition of an edition includes all copies of a book printed “from substantially the same setting of type,” including all minor typographical variants.

Legal deposit is a legal requirement that a person or group submit copies of their publications to a repository, usually a library. The number of copies required varies from country to country. Typically, the national library is the primary repository of these copies. In some countries there is also a legal deposit requirement placed on the government, and it is required to send copies of documents to publicly accessible libraries.

No Electronic Theft Act US federal law passed in 1997

The United States No Electronic Theft Act , a federal law passed in 1997, provides for criminal prosecution of individuals who engage in copyright infringement under certain circumstances, even when there is no monetary profit or commercial benefit from the infringement. Maximum penalties can be five years in prison with fines.

Grey literature Documents and research not produced for commercial or academic journal purposes

Grey literature is materials and research produced by organizations outside of the traditional commercial or academic publishing and distribution channels. Common grey literature publication types include reports, working papers, government documents, white papers and evaluations. Organizations that produce grey literature include government departments and agencies, civil society or non-governmental organizations, academic centres and departments, and private companies and consultants.

Copyright Act of 1909

The Copyright Act of 1909 was a landmark statute in United States statutory copyright law. It went into effect on July 1, 1909. The 1909 Act was repealed and superseded by the Copyright Act of 1976, which went into effect on January 1, 1978; but some of 1909 Act's provisions continue to apply to copyrighted works created before 1978. It allowed for works to be copyrighted for a period of 28 years from the date of publication but extended the preexisting renewal term of 14 years to 28 years, for a maximum of 56 years.

In copyright law, a mechanical license is a license from the holder of a copyright of a composition or musical work, to another party to create a "cover song", reproduce, or sample a portion of the original composition. It applies to copyrighted work that is neither a free/open source item nor in the public domain.

The sound recording copyright symbol or phonogram symbol, represented by the graphic symbol , is the copyright symbol used to provide notice of copyright in a sound recording (phonogram) embodied in a phonorecord. It was first introduced in the Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations. The United States added it to its copyright law as part of its adherence to the Geneva Phonograms Convention. Its use is currently set out in 17 U.S.C. § 402, the codification of the Copyright Act of 1976.

Copyright notice

In United States copyright law, a copyright notice is a notice of statutorily prescribed form that informs users of the underlying claim to copyright ownership in a published work.

Free content Creative work with few or no restrictions on how it may be used

Free content, libre content, or free information is any kind of functional work, work of art, or other creative content that meets the definition of a free cultural work.

Copyright Act of 1976 United States law

The Copyright Act of 1976 is a United States copyright law and remains the primary basis of copyright law in the United States, as amended by several later enacted copyright provisions. The Act spells out the basic rights of copyright holders, codified the doctrine of "fair use", and for most new copyrights adopted a unitary term based on the date of the author's death rather than the prior scheme of fixed initial and renewal terms. It became Public Law number 94-553 on October 19, 1976 and went into effect on January 1, 1978.

The Copyright Law of the United States grants monopoly protection for "original works of authorship". With the stated purpose to promote art and culture, copyright law assigns a set of exclusive rights to authors: to make and sell copies of their works, to create derivative works, and to perform or display their works publicly. These exclusive rights are subject to a time limit, and generally expire 70 years after the author's death or 95 years after publication. In the United States, works published before January 1, 1927, are in the public domain.

Playboy Enterprises, Inc. v. Frena, 839 F.Supp. 1552 (1993) was a copyright infringement case decided by the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, holding that the unauthorized use of photographs infringed on copyright; using magazine's trademark to identify bulletin board files was trademark infringement; and deleting magazine's trademark from photographs and inserting advertisement was unfair competition.

Playboy Enterprises, Inc. v. Starware Publishing Corp. 900 F.Supp. 433 was a case heard before the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida in May 1995. The case revolved around the subject of copyright infringement and exclusive rights in copyrighted works. Plaintiff Playboy Enterprises filed a motion for partial summary judgment of liability of copyright infringement against defendant Starware Publishing Corporation. Specifically, Playboy Enterprises ("PEI") argued that Starware's distribution of 53 of Playboy's images, taken from an online bulletin board, and then sold on a CD-ROM, infringed upon PEI's copyrights. The case affirmed that it was copyright infringement, granting Playboy Enterprises the partial summary judgment. Most importantly, the case established that "The copyright owner need not prove knowledge or intent on the part of the defendant to establish liability for direct copyright infringement."

Outline of books Overview of and topical guide to books

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to books:

<i>, Inc. v. Cangemi</i>

In, Inc. v. Cangemi, Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York was presented with the novel issue of whether a copyrightable work made available over the internet could be considered published under the Copyright Act of 1976. Through analogy to traditional physical distribution, the court held that this indeed constituted publication.

Collective work (US)

A collective work in the copyright law of the United States is a work that contains the works of several authors assembled and published into a collective whole. The owner of the work has the property rights in the collective work, but the authors of the individual works may retain rights in their contributions. Electronic reproduction of the whole work is allowed, but electronic reproduction of the individual works on their own, outside the context of the work as a whole, may constitute an infringement of copyright.


  1. 1 2 Berne Convention, article 3(3). URL last accessed 2010-05-10.
  2. 1 2 Universal Copyright Convention, Geneva text (1952), article VI Archived 2012-11-25 at the Wayback Machine . URL last accessed 2010-05-10.
  3. German UrhG, §6, in German. URL last accessed 2007-05-29.
  4. Australian Copyright Act, section 29: Publication. URL last accessed 2007-05-29.
  5. Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (c. 48), section 175, Copyright law of the United Kingdom. URL last accessed 2007-05-29.
  6. Hawksworth, D. L. (2011). "A new dawn for the naming of fungi: impacts of decisions made in Melbourne in July 2011 on the future publication and regulation of fungal names". MycoKeys . 1: 7–20. doi: 10.3897/mycokeys.1.2062 .
  7. "APA REFERENCE STYLE: Unpublished Sources". 2002. Retrieved 7 March 2012.