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Copyright: Legislative History

Do I Need Legislative History?

The process of compiling a legislative history involves identifying and locating all of the publications generated by the legislature during its consideration of a bill. Researchers consult these legislative publications for two primary reasons:

1. when a piece of legislation is pending before Congress and the researcher wants to locate the current text and status of the bill

2. when there is ambiguity in an act’s language and the researcher needs to determine the legislature’s intent in passing the law.

To clarify ambiguity in statutory meaning, first check to see if the term is defined in another part of the statute or code. If it isn't, look for judicial opinions that have interpreted the language of the statute. When these methods don’t work, the legislative publications produced during the legislative process become the best source for determining meaning or intent.

Compiled Copyright Legislative Histories

To locate compiled legislative histories in the Law Library’s collections, search InfoHawk+, the library’s online catalog, using the following format:

Title words: [name of the act] and legislative histor? (i.e. Semiconductor Chip Protection Act and legislative histor?)

Compiled legislative histories relating to copyright include:

Additional Sources

The following sources also provide access to legislative history information: