Question: YES OR NO? The philosophical idea of limited rights of authors is a recent addition to the U.S. Code.

Answer is “NO”.  This idea has its roots in the history of our constitution. Signed in 1787 and ratified in 1789, Article I, Section 8 , Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution states, “The Congress shall have power to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.” In 1790 the first copyright law of the United States was enacted into law, with the duration of copyright limited to a period of fourteen years, with a renewal possible of another fourteen. Compare that to our current duration of copyright, which is the life of the author, plus 70 years. However, Fair Use — as a codified statute — did not occur until the 1976 revision of the U.S. Copyright Act.

Sources:

“Copyright Timeline of the United States.” Association of Research Libraries. Accessed February 19, 2016. http://www.arl.org/focus-areas/copyright-ip/2486-copyright-timeline

“Duration of Copyright.” U.S. Copyright Office.  Accessed February 19, 2016. http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ15a.pdf