Series 82994
District Court (Third District) Copyright petitions

Dates: i 1870-1875, 1879.

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These records are housed in the Utah State Archives' permanent storage room.

Historical Note

An agency history is available.

Scope and Content

An original application for copyright for theatrical plays, books, maps, drawings, medicine preparations, slip inscriptions, and labels make up these petitions. A description of the play, book, or map, or a sample of the label or slip design are usually included. Copyright ownership guaranteed to the creator the sole right and liberty of printing, reprinting, publishing, and vending their works for a term of 28 years from the time of recording the title thereof. At the end of the original 28-year term, the copyright could be extended 14 years through application for a second term. These petitions document the legal process of securing intellectual property rights in the territorial third judicial district.

In accordance with an act of Congress entitled "An Act to amend the several acts respecting copy rights" (February 3, 1831), a printed copy of the material to be copyrighted was to be deposited in the clerk's office of the district court of the district in which the author or proprietor resides. The exact language of the petition was specified by the statute. Responsibility for "all acts and duties required by law touching copyrights" was transferred from the district courts to the Library of Congress in 1870 ("Second general revision of the copyright law," July 8, 1870). Despite repeal of the 1831 law in July 1870, copyright petitions citing the earlier statute continued to be filed in the Third District Court clerk's office off and on until 1879. The majority of these applications (18 of 21) fall into that category. Copyright petitions were not assigned a case number nor entered into the CASE INDEX, series 3243. Consequently it is not known how many copyright petitions were filed with the Third District court clerk, who filed them, which (if any) may be missing.


Chronological by date of filing

Copyright petitions originally were filed with the case files of the court (series 9802), but not assigned case numbers. The 21 known copyright petitions in this series were separated and placed in a new series. The petitions in the new series are filed chronologically by date filed.

Research Note

These copyright petitions were located among the territorial CASE FILES (1851-1896), series 9802. The 1831 copyright statute required that within three months of publication, a copy of the work was to be delivered to the court clerk. A "certified list of records of copyright, including the titles so recorded, and the dates of record," was also maintained. These were forwarded periodically to the U.S. Secretary of State. The 1870 law mandated that the Secretary of State and the district court clerks transfer all copyright records to the Librarian of Congress. Surviving records are now in the custody of the U.S. Copyright Office within the Library of Congress.

Related Records

Case files from the District Court (Third District), Series 9802, were found inter-filed among the territorial case files

Custody History

Files were maintained by the court clerk appointed by the district court judge. At statehood, the county clerk was designated ex-officio court clerk. The county/district court clerk maintained custody of the case files until transfer to the Utah State Archives between 1982 and 1985.

Access Restrictions

This series is classified as Public: Title 17 USC Section 705 (b) states that copyright records and indexes shall be open to public inspection..

Preferred Citation

Cite the Utah State Archives and Records Service, the creating agency name, the series title, and the series number.

Gaps in Series

Copyright petitions were not assigned a case number nor entered into the territorial CASE INDEX, series 3243. Consequently it is not known how many copyright petitions were filed, who filed them, which (if any) are missing.

Processing Note

All 18 copyright petitions identified by Noel R. Barton (document dated 11 July 1987) have been accounted for. Three additional petitions were located during the processing of the territorial CASE FILES (1851-1896), series 9802. Since 1983, case files have been listed as permanent records in the records retention policy of the Utah Judicial Council. These records were archivally processed by W. Glen Fairclough, Jr., in 1996.

Finding Aids

Other: A list of known petitions has been compiled and is attached to the series inventory. Other: a research guide entitled "Using Court Records" is available for patron use.

Indexing Terms

  • Copyright—Drama—Utah.
  • Copyright—Maps—Utah.
  • Copyright—Art—Utah.
  • Labels—Utah.
  • Patent Medicines—Utah.
  • Copyright—Manuscripts—Utah.

Page Last Updated October 18, 2012.