The Copyright Act of 1790 was the first Federal copyright act to be instituted in the United States, though most of the states had passed various legislation securing copyrights in the years immediately following the Revolution. The stated object of the act was the "encouragement of learning," and it achieved this by securing authors the "sole right and liberty of printing, reprinting, publishing and vending" the copies of their "maps, charts, and books" for a term of 14 years, with the right to renew for one additional 14 year term should the copyright holder still be alive.
This act applied exclusively to citizens of the United States. Non-citizens and material printed outside the United States could not be granted any copyright protection until the International Copyright Act of 1891.
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