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Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United
States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of “original works of
authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and
certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both
published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act
generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to
authorize others to do the following:
To reproduce the work in copies or
To prepare derivative works based upon
To distribute copies or phonorecords of
the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by
rental, lease, or lending;
To perform the work publicly, in the case of
literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and
motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
To display the copyrighted work publicly,
in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works,
pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the
individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and
In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work
publicly by means of a digital audio
In addition, certain authors of works of visual art have the rights of
attribution and integrity as described in section
106A of the 1976 Copyright Act. For further information, request Circular
40, “Copyright Registration for Works of the Visual Arts.”
It is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights provided by the
copyright law to the owner of copyright. These rights, however, are not
unlimited in scope. Sections
107 through 121 of the 1976 Copyright Act establish limitations on
these rights. In some cases, these limitations are specified exemptions
from copyright liability. One major limitation is the doctrine of
"fair use," which is given a statutory basis in section
107 of the 1976 Copyright Act. In other instances, the limitation
takes the form of a "compulsory license" under which certain
limited uses of copyrighted works are permitted upon payment of specified
royalties and compliance with statutory conditions. For further
information about the limitations of any of these rights, consult the
copyright law or write to the Copyright Office.
Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in
fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship immediately
becomes the property of the author who created the work. Only the author
or those deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim
In the case of works made for hire, the employer and not the employee
is considered to be the author. Section
101 of the copyright law defines a "work made for hire" as:
- (1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her
- (2) a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as:
- a contribution to a collective work
- a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work
- a translation
- a supplementary work
- a compilation
- an instructional text
- a test
- answer material for a test
- an atlas
if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them
that the work shall be considered a work made for hire....
The authors of a joint work are co-owners of the copyright in the work,
unless there is an agreement to the contrary.
Copyright in each separate contribution to a periodical or other
collective work is distinct from copyright in the collective work as a
whole and vests initially with the author of the contribution.
Two General Principles
- Mere ownership of a book, manuscript, painting, or any other copy or
phonorecord does not give the possessor the copyright. The law
provides that transfer of ownership of any material object that
embodies a protected work does not of itself convey any rights in the
- Minors may claim copyright, but state laws may regulate the business
dealings involving copyrights owned by minors. For information on
relevant state laws, consult an attorney.
Copyright protection is available for all unpublished works, regardless
of the nationality or domicile of the author.
Published works are eligible for copyright protection in the United
States if any one of the following conditions is
On the date of first publication, one or more of the authors is a
national or domiciliary of the United States, or is a national,
domiciliary, or sovereign authority of a treaty party,* or is a
stateless person wherever that person may be domiciled; or
|* A treaty party is a country or
intergovernmental organization other than the United States
that is a party to an international agreement.
The work is first published in the United States or in a foreign
nation that, on the date of first publication, is a treaty party. For
purposes of this condition, a work that is published in the United
States or a treaty party within 30 days after publication in a foreign
nation that is not a treaty party shall be considered to be first
published in the United States or such treaty party, as the case may
The work is a sound recording that was first fixed in a treaty
The work is a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work that is
incorporated in a building or other structure, or an architectural
work that is embodied in a building and the building or structure is
located in the United States or a treaty party; or
The work is first published by the United Nations or any of its
specialized agencies, or by the Organization of American States; or
The work is a foreign work that was in the public domain in the
United States prior to 1996 and its copyright was restored under the
Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA). Request Circular
38b, "Highlights of Copyright Amendments Contained in the
Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA-GATT)," for further
- The work comes within the scope of a Presidential
Copyright protects "original works of authorship" that are
fixed in a tangible form of expression. The fixation need not be directly
perceptible so long as it may be communicated with the aid of a machine or
device. Copyrightable works include the following categories:
- literary works;
- musical works, including any accompanying words
- dramatic works, including any accompanying music
- pantomimes and choreographic works
- pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
- motion pictures and other audiovisual works
- sound recordings
- architectural works
These categories should be viewed broadly. For example, computer
programs and most "compilations" may be registered as
"literary works"; maps and architectural plans may be registered
as "pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works."
Several categories of material are generally not eligible for federal
copyright protection. These include among others:
Works that have not been fixed in a
tangible form of expression (for example, choreographic works that
have not been notated or recorded, or improvisational speeches or
performances that have not been written or recorded)
Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or
designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or
coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents
Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts,
principles, discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a
description, explanation, or illustration
Works consisting entirely of information
that is common property and containing no original authorship (for
example: standard calendars, height and weight charts, tape measures
and rulers, and lists or tables taken from public documents or other
Copyright Secured Automatically upon Creation
The way in which copyright protection is secured is frequently
misunderstood. No publication or registration or other action in the
Copyright Office is required to secure copyright. (See following Note.)
There are, however, certain definite advantages to registration. See
Copyright is secured automatically when the
work is created, and a work is "created" when it is fixed in a
copy or phonorecord for the first time. "Copies" are material
objects from which a work can be read or visually perceived either
directly or with the aid of a machine or device, such as books,
manuscripts, sheet music, film, videotape, or microfilm. "Phonorecords"
are material objects embodying fixations of sounds (excluding, by
statutory definition, motion picture soundtracks), such as cassette tapes,
CDs, or LPs. Thus, for example, a song (the "work") can be fixed
in sheet music (" copies") or in phonograph disks ("
phonorecords"), or both.
If a work is prepared over a period of time, the part of the work that
is fixed on a particular date constitutes the created work as of that
Publication is no longer the key to obtaining federal copyright as it
was under the Copyright Act of 1909. However, publication remains
important to copyright owners.
The 1976 Copyright Act defines publication as follows:
"Publication" is 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 persons 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
|NOTE: Before 1978,
federal copyright was generally secured by the act of publication
with notice of copyright, assuming compliance with all other
relevant statutory conditions. U. S. works in the public domain on
January 1, 1978, (for example, works published without satisfying
all conditions for securing federal copyright under the Copyright
Act of 1909) remain in the public domain under the 1976 Copyright
Certain foreign works originally published without notice had
their copyrights restored under the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA).
38b and see the "Notice of Copyright"
section of this publication for further information.
Federal copyright could also be secured before 1978 by the act
of registration in the case of certain unpublished works and works
eligible for ad interim copyright. The 1976 Copyright Act
automatically extends to full term (section
304 sets the term) copyright for all works, including those
subject to ad interim copyright if ad interim registration has
been made on or before June 30, 1978.
A further discussion of the definition of "publication" can
be found in the legislative history of the 1976 Copyright Act. The
legislative reports define "to the public" as distribution to
persons under no explicit or implicit restrictions with respect to
disclosure of the contents. The reports state that the definition makes it
clear that the sale of phonorecords constitutes publication of the
underlying work, for example, the musical, dramatic, or literary work
embodied in a phonorecord. The reports also state that it is clear that
any form of dissemination in which the material object does not change
hands, for example, performances or displays on television, is not
a publication no matter how many people are exposed to the work. However,
when copies or phonorecords are offered for sale or lease to a group of
wholesalers, broadcasters, or motion picture theaters, publication does
take place if the purpose is further distribution, public performance, or
Publication is an important concept in the copyright law for several
Works that are published in the United States are subject to
mandatory deposit with the Library of Congress. See discussion on
"Mandatory Deposit for Works Published in the
Publication of a work can affect the limitations on the exclusive
rights of the copyright owner that are set forth in sections
107 through 121 of the law.
The year of publication may determine the duration of copyright
protection for anonymous and pseudonymous works (when the author's
identity is not revealed in the records of the Copyright Office) and
for works made for hire.
Deposit requirements for registration of published works differ
from those for registration of unpublished works. See discussion on
When a work is published, it may bear a notice of copyright to
identify the year of publication and the name of the copyright owner
and to inform the public that the work is protected by copyright.
Copies of works published before March 1, 1989, must bear the notice
or risk loss of copyright protection. See discussion on "Notice
of Copyright" below.
The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U. S. law,
although it is often beneficial. Because prior law did contain such a
requirement, however, the use of notice is still relevant to the copyright
status of older works.
Notice was required under the 1976 Copyright Act. This requirement was
eliminated when the United States adhered to the Berne Convention,
effective March 1, 1989. Although works published without notice before
that date could have entered the public domain in the United States, the
Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA) restores copyright in certain foreign
works originally published without notice. For further information about
copyright amendments in the URAA, request Circular
The Copyright Office does not take a position on whether copies of
works first published with notice before March 1, 1989, which are
distributed on or after March 1, 1989, must bear the copyright notice.
Use of the notice may be important because it informs the public that
the work is protected by copyright, identifies the copyright owner, and
shows the year of first publication. Furthermore, in the event that a work
is infringed, if a proper notice of copyright appears on the published
copy or copies to which a defendant in a copyright infringement suit had
access, then no weight shall be given to such a defendant's interposition
of a defense based on innocent infringement in mitigation of actual or
statutory damages, except as provided in section
504(c)(2) of the copyright law. Innocent infringement occurs when the
infringer did not realize that the work was protected.
The use of the copyright notice is the responsibility of the copyright
owner and does not require advance permission from, or registration with,
the Copyright Office.
The notice for visually perceptible copies should contain all the
following three elements:
1. The symbol © (the letter C in a circle), or the
word "Copyright," or the abbreviation "Copr."; and
2. The year of first publication of the work. In the
case of compilations or derivative works incorporating previously
published material, the year date of first publication of the compilation
or derivative work is sufficient. The year date may be omitted where a
pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work, with accompanying textual matter,
if any, is reproduced in or on greeting cards, postcards, stationery,
jewelry, dolls, toys, or any useful article; and
3. The name of the owner of copyright in the work, or
an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized, or a generally known
alternative designation of the owner.
Example: © 2002 John Doe
The "C in a circle" notice is used only on "visually
perceptible copies." Certain kinds of works--for example, musical,
dramatic, and literary works--may be fixed not in "copies" but
by means of sound in an audio recording. Since audio recordings such as
audio tapes and phonograph disks are "phonorecords" and not
"copies," the "C in a circle" notice is not used to
indicate protection of the underlying musical, dramatic, or literary work
that is recorded.
* Sound recordings are defined in the law as "works that result
from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds, but
not including the sounds accompanying a motion picture or other
audiovisual work." Common examples include recordings of music,
drama, or lectures. A sound recording is not the same as a phonorecord.
A phonorecord is the physical object in which works of authorship are
embodied. The word "phonorecord" includes cassette tapes, CDs,
LPs, 45 r. p. m. disks, as well as other formats.
The notice for phonorecords embodying a sound recording should contain
all the following three elements:
1. The symbol
(the letter P in a circle); and
2. The year of first publication of the sound
3. The name of the owner of copyright in the
sound recording, or an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized,
or a generally known alternative designation of the owner. If the producer
of the sound recording is named on the phonorecord label or container and
if no other name appears in conjunction with the notice, the producer's
name shall be considered a part of the notice.
2002 A. B. C. Records Inc.
|NOTE: Since questions may arise from the use of variant
forms of the notice, you may wish to seek legal advice before
using any form of the notice other than those given here.
The copyright notice should be affixed to copies or phonorecords in
such a way as to "give reasonable notice of the claim of
copyright." The three elements of the notice should ordinarily appear
together on the copies or phonorecords or on the phonorecord label or
container. The Copyright Office has issued regulations concerning the form
and position of the copyright notice in the Code of Federal Regulations (37
CFR Section 201.20). For more information, request Circular
3, "Copyright Notice."
Works by the U. S. Government are not eligible for U. S. copyright
protection. For works published on and after March 1, 1989, the previous
notice requirement for works consisting primarily of one or more U. S.
Government works has been eliminated. However, use of a notice on such a
work will defeat a claim of innocent infringement as previously described
provided the notice also includes a statement that identifies either those
portions of the work in which copyright is claimed or those portions that
constitute U. S. Government material.
Example: © 2002 Jane Brown. Copyright claimed in Chapters 7-10,
exclusive of U. S. Government maps
Copies of works published before March 1, 1989, that consist primarily
of one or more works of the U. S. Government should
have a notice and the identifying statement.
The author or copyright owner may wish to place a copyright notice on
any unpublished copies or phonorecords that leave his or her control.
Example: Unpublished work © 2002 Jane Doe
The 1976 Copyright Act attempted to ameliorate the strict consequences
of failure to include notice under prior law. It contained provisions that
set out specific corrective steps to cure omissions or certain errors in
notice. Under these provisions, an applicant had 5 years after publication
to cure omission of notice or certain errors. Although these provisions
are technically still in the law, their impact has been limited by the
amendment making notice optional for all works published on and after
March 1, 1989. For further information, request Circular
3, "Copyright Notice."
Works Originally Created on or after January 1, 1978
A work that is created (fixed in tangible form for the first time) on
or after January 1, 1978, is automatically protected from the moment of
its creation and is ordinarily given a term enduring for the author's life
plus an additional 70 years after the author's death. In the case of
"a joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for
hire," the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving author's
death. For works made for hire, and for anonymous and pseudonymous works
(unless the author's identity is revealed in Copyright Office records),
the duration of copyright will be 95 years from publication or 120 years
from creation, whichever is shorter.
Works Originally Created before January 1, 1978, But Not Published or
Registered by That Date
These works have been automatically brought under the statute and are
now given federal copyright protection. The duration of copyright in these
works will generally be computed in the same way as for works created on
or after January 1, 1978: the life-plus-70 or 95/120-year terms will apply
to them as well. The law provides that in no case will the term of
copyright for works in this category expire before December 31, 2002, and
for works published on or before December 31, 2002, the term of copyright
will not expire before December 31, 2047.
Works Originally Created and Published or Registered before January 1,
Under the law in effect before 1978, copyright was secured either on
the date a work was published with a copyright notice or on the date of
registration if the work was registered in unpublished form. In either
case, the copyright endured for a first term of 28 years from the date it
was secured. During the last (28th) year of the first term, the copyright
was eligible for renewal. The Copyright Act of 1976 extended the renewal
term from 28 to 47 years for copyrights that were subsisting on January 1,
1978, or for pre-1978 copyrights restored under the Uruguay Round
Agreements Act (URAA), making these works eligible for a total term of
protection of 75 years. Public
Law 105-298, enacted on October 27, 1998, further extended the renewal
term of copyrights still subsisting on that date by an additional 20
years, providing for a renewal term of 67 years and a total term of
protection of 95 years.
Law 102-307, enacted on June 26, 1992, amended the 1976 Copyright Act
to provide for automatic renewal of the term of copyrights secured between
January 1, 1964, and December 31, 1977. Although the renewal term is
automatically provided, the Copyright Office does not issue a renewal
certificate for these works unless a renewal application and fee are
received and registered in the Copyright Office.
Law 102-307 makes renewal registration optional. Thus, filing for
renewal registration is no longer required in order to extend the original
28-year copyright term to the full 95 years. However, some benefits accrue
from making a renewal registration during the 28th year of the original
For more detailed information on renewal of copyright and the copyright
term, request Circular
15, "Renewal of Copyright"; Circular
15a, "Duration of Copyright"; and Circular
15t, "Extension of Copyright Terms."
Any or all of the copyright owner's exclusive
rights or any subdivision of those rights may be transferred, but the
transfer of exclusive rights is not valid unless that transfer is in
writing and signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or such owner's
duly authorized agent. Transfer of a right on a nonexclusive basis does
not require a written agreement.
A copyright may also be conveyed by operation of law and may be
bequeathed by will or pass as personal property by the applicable laws of
Copyright is a personal property right, and it is subject to the
various state laws and regulations that govern the ownership, inheritance,
or transfer of personal property as well as terms of contracts or conduct
of business. For information about relevant state laws, consult an
Transfers of copyright are normally made by contract. The Copyright
Office does not have any forms for such transfers. The law does provide
for the recordation in the Copyright Office of transfers of copyright
ownership. Although recordation is not required to make a valid transfer
between the parties, it does provide certain legal advantages and may be
required to validate the transfer as against third parties. For
information on recordation of transfers and other documents related to
copyright, request Circular
12, "Recordation of Transfers and Other Documents."
Under the previous law, the copyright in a work reverted to the author,
if living, or if the author was not living, to other specified
beneficiaries, provided a renewal claim was registered in the 28th year of
the original term.* The present law drops the renewal feature except for
works already in the first term of statutory protection when the present
law took effect. Instead, the present law permits termination of a grant
of rights after 35 years under certain conditions by serving written
notice on the transferee within specified time limits.
*The copyright in works eligible for renewal on or after June 26,
1992, will vest in the name of the renewal claimant on the effective
date of any renewal registration made during the 28th year of the
original term. Otherwise, the renewal copyright will vest in the party
entitled to claim renewal as of December 31st of the 28th year.
For works already under statutory copyright protection before 1978, the
present law provides a similar right of termination covering the newly
added years that extended the former maximum term of the copyright from 56
to 95 years. For further information, request Circulars
15a and 15t.
There is no such thing as an "international copyright" that
will automatically protect an author's writings throughout the entire
world. Protection against unauthorized use in a particular country
depends, basically, on the national laws of that country. However, most
countries do offer protection to foreign works under certain conditions,
and these conditions have been greatly simplified by international
copyright treaties and conventions. For further information and a list of
countries that maintain copyright relations with the United States,
request Circular 38a,
"International Copyright Relations of the United States."
In general, copyright registration is a legal formality intended to
make a public record of the basic facts of a particular copyright.
However, registration is not a condition of copyright protection. Even
though registration is not a requirement for protection, the copyright law
provides several inducements or advantages to encourage copyright owners
to make registration. Among these advantages are the following:
Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim.
Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is
necessary for works of U. S. origin.
If made before or within 5 years of publication, registration will
establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the
copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.
If registration is made within 3 months after publication of the
work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and
attorney's fees will be available to the copyright owner in court
actions. Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is
available to the copyright owner.
Registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the
registration with the U. S. Customs Service for protection against the
importation of infringing copies. For additional information, request
Publication No. 563 "How to Protect Your Intellectual Property
Right," from: U.S. Customs Service, P.O. Box 7404, Washington,
D.C. 20044. See the U.S. Customs Service Website at www.customs.gov
for online publications.
Registration may be made at any time within the life of the copyright.
Unlike the law before 1978, when a work has been registered in unpublished
form, it is not necessary to make another registration when the work
becomes published, although the copyright owner may register the published
edition, if desired.
To register a work, send the following three elements in
the same envelope or package to:
Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000
- A properly completed application form.
- A nonrefundable filing fee of $30 for each application.
Copyright Office fees are subject to change. For current fees,
please check the Copyright Office Website at www.copyright.gov,
write the Copyright Office, or call (202) 707-3000.
- A nonreturnable deposit of the work being registered. The deposit
requirements vary in particular situations. The general requirements
follow. Also note the information under "Special
If the work was first published in the United States on or after
January 1, 1978, two complete copies or phonorecords of the best
If the work was first published in the United States before January
1, 1978, two complete copies or phonorecords of the work as first
If the work was first published outside the United States, one
complete copy or phonorecord of the work as first published.
If sending multiple works, all applications, deposits, and fees
should be sent in the same package. If possible, applications should
be attached to the appropriate deposit. Whenever possible, number each
package (e. g., 1 of 3, 2 of 4) to facilitate processing.
What Happens if the Three Elements Are Not Received Together
Applications and fees received without appropriate copies, phonorecords,
or identifying material will not be processed and ordinarily will be
returned. Unpublished deposits without applications or fees ordinarily
will be returned, also. In most cases, published deposits received without
applications and fees can be immediately transferred to the collections of
the Library of Congress. This practice is in accordance with section
408 of the law, which provides that the published deposit required for
the collections of the Library of Congress may be used for registration
only if the deposit is "accompanied by the prescribed application and
After the deposit is received and transferred to another service unit
of the Library for its collections or other disposition, it is no longer
available to the Copyright Office. If you wish to register the work, you
must deposit additional copies or phonorecords with your application and
To register a renewal, send:
- A properly completed application Form RE and, if necessary, Form RE
- A nonrefundable filing fee of $60 without Addendum; $90 with
Addendum for each application. (See Note above.)
Each Addendum form must be accompanied by a deposit representing the
work being reviewed. See Circular
15, "Renewal of Copyright."
|NOTE: Complete the application form
using black ink pen or type. You may photocopy blank
application forms. However, photocopied forms
submitted to the Copyright Office must be clear, legible, on a
good grade of 8-1/2-inch by 11-inch white paper suitable for
automatic feeding through a photocopier. The forms should be
printed, preferably in black ink, head-to-head so that when you
turn the sheet over, the top of page 2 is directly behind the top
of page 1. Forms not meeting these requirements may be
returned resulting in delayed registration.
Special deposit requirements exist for many types of works. The
following are prominent examples of exceptions to the general deposit
If the work is a motion picture, the deposit requirement is one
complete copy of the unpublished or published motion picture and
a separate written description of its contents, such as a continuity,
press book, or synopsis.
If the work is a literary, dramatic, or musical work published
only in a phonorecord, the deposit requirement is one
If the work is an unpublished or published computer program, the
deposit requirement is one visually perceptible copy in source code of
the first 25 and last 25 pages of the program. For a
program of fewer than 50 pages, the deposit is a copy of the entire
program. For more information on computer program registration,
including deposits for revised programs and provisions for trade
secrets, request Circular
61, "Copyright Registration for Computer Programs."
If the work is in a CD-ROM format, the deposit requirement is one
complete copy of the material, that is, the CD-ROM, the operating
software, and any manual(s) accompanying it. If registration is sought
for the computer program on the CD-ROM, the deposit should also
include a printout of the first 25 and last 25 pages of source code
for the program.
In the case of works reproduced in three-dimensional copies,
identifying material such as photographs or drawings is ordinarily
required. Other examples of special deposit requirements (but by no means
an exhaustive list) include many works of the visual arts such as greeting
cards, toys, fabrics, oversized materials (request Circular
40a, "Deposit Requirements for Registration of Claims to
Copyright in Visual Arts Material"); video games and other
machine-readable audiovisual works (request Circular
61); automated databases (request Circular
65, "Copyright Registration for Automated Databases"); and
contributions to collective works. For information about deposit
requirements for group registration of serials, request Circular
62, "Copyright Registration for Serials."
If you are unsure of the deposit requirement for your work, write or
call the Copyright Office and describe the work you wish to register.
Under the following conditions, a work may be registered in unpublished
form as a "collection," with one application form and one fee:
- The elements of the collection are assembled in an orderly form;
- The combined elements bear a single title identifying the collection
as a whole;
- The copyright claimant in all the elements and in the collection as
a whole is the same; and
- All the elements are by the same author, or, if they are by
different authors, at least one of the authors has contributed
copyrightable authorship to each element.
An unpublished collection is not indexed under the individual titles of
the contents but under the title of the collection.
|NOTE: A Library of Congress Control
Number is different from a copyright registration number.
The Cataloging in Publication (CIP) Division of the Library of
Congress is responsible for assigning LC Control Numbers and is
operationally separate from the Copyright Office. A book may be
registered in or deposited with the Copyright Office but not
necessarily cataloged and added to the Library's collections. For
information about obtaining an LC Control Number, see the
following homepage: http://pcn.loc.gov/pcn.
For information on International Standard Book Numbering (ISBN),
write to: ISBN, R. R. Bowker, 630 Central Ave., New Providence, NJ
07974. Call (877) 310-7333. For further information and to apply
online, see www.isbn.org. For
information on International Standard Serial Numbering (ISSN),
write to: Library of Congress, National Serials Data Program,
Serial Record Division, Washington, D.C. 20540-4160. Call (202)
707-6452. Or obtain information from www.loc.gov/issn.
A copyright registration is effective on the date the Copyright
Office receives all the required elements in acceptable form, regardless
of how long it then takes to process the application and mail the
certificate of registration. The time the Copyright Office requires to
process an application varies, depending on the amount of material the
Office is receiving.
If you apply for copyright registration, you will not receive an
acknowledgment that your application has been received (the Office
receives more than 600,000 applications annually), but you can expect:
A letter or a telephone call from a Copyright Office staff member
if further information is needed or
A certificate of registration indicating that the work has been
registered, or if the application cannot be accepted, a letter
explaining why it has been rejected.
Requests to have certificates available for pickup in the Public
Information Office or to have certificates sent by Federal Express or
another mail service cannot be honored.
If you want to know the date that the Copyright Office receives your
material, send it by registered or certified mail and request a return
To correct an error in a copyright registration or to amplify the
information given in a registration, file a supplementary registration
with the Copyright Office. The filing fee is $100. (See Note
above.) The information in a supplementary registration augments but does
not supersede that contained in the earlier registration. Note also that a
supplementary registration is not a substitute for an original
registration, for a renewal registration, or for recording a transfer of
ownership. For further information about supplementary registration,
request Circular 8,
"Supplementary Copyright Registration."
Although a copyright registration is not required, the Copyright Act
establishes a mandatory deposit requirement for works published in the
United States. See the definition of "publication."
In general, the owner of copyright or the owner of the exclusive right of
publication in the work has a legal obligation to deposit in the Copyright
Office, within 3 months of publication in the United States, two copies
(or in the case of sound recordings, two phonorecords) for the use of the
Library of Congress. Failure to make the deposit can result in fines and
other penalties but does not affect copyright protection.
Certain categories of works are exempt entirely from the mandatory
deposit requirements, and the obligation is reduced for certain other
categories. For further information about mandatory deposit, request Circular
7d, "Mandatory Deposit of Copies or Phonorecords for the Library
For works published in the United States, the copyright law contains a
provision under which a single deposit can be made to satisfy both the
deposit requirements for the Library and the registration requirements. In
order to have this dual effect, the copies or phonorecords must be
accompanied by the prescribed application form and filing fee.
WHO MAY FILE AN APPLICATION FORM?
The following persons are legally entitled to submit an application
The author. This is either the person who actually
created the work or, if the work was made for hire, the employer or
other person for whom the work was prepared.
The copyright claimant. The copyright claimant is
defined in Copyright Office regulations as either the author of the
work or a person or organization that has obtained ownership of all
the rights under the copyright initially belonging to the author. This
category includes a person or organization who has obtained by
contract the right to claim legal title to the copyright in an
application for copyright registration.
The owner of exclusive right(s). Under the law,
any of the exclusive rights that make up a copyright and any
subdivision of them can be transferred and owned separately, even
though the transfer may be limited in time or place of effect. The
term "copyright owner" with respect to any one of the
exclusive rights contained in a copyright refers to the owner of that
particular right. Any owner of an exclusive right may apply for
registration of a claim in the work.
The duly authorized agent of such author, other
copyright claimant, or owner of exclusive right(s). Any person
authorized to act on behalf of the author, other copyright claimant,
or owner of exclusive rights may apply for registration.
There is no requirement that applications be prepared or filed by an
For Original Registration
||for published and unpublished works of the
performing arts (musical and dramatic works, pantomimes and
choreographic works, motion pictures and other audiovisual works)
||for serials, works issued or intended to be issued in successive
parts bearing numerical or chronological designations and intended
to be continued indefinitely (periodicals, newspapers, magazines,
newsletters, annuals, journals, etc.)
||for published and unpublished sound recordings
||for published and unpublished nondramatic literary works
||for published and unpublished works of the visual arts
(pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works, including architectural
||a specialized form to register a complete month's issues of a
daily newspaper when certain conditions are met
Form/SE and Form
||specialized SE forms for use when certain
requirements are met
Forms TX, PA,
||short versions of applications for original
registration. For further information about using the short forms,
request publication SL-7.
GATT and Form
||specialized forms to register a claim in a work or
group of related works in which U. S. copyright was restored under
the 1994 Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA). For further
information, request Circular
For Renewal Registration
||for claims to renew copyright in works copyrighted under the law
in effect through December 31, 1977 (1909 Copyright Act) and
registered during the initial 28-year copyright term
||accompanies Form RE for claims to renew copyright
in works copyrighted under the 1909 Copyright Act but never
registered during their initial 28-year copyright term
For Corrections and Amplifications
||for supplementary registration to correct or amplify information
given in the Copyright Office record of an earlier registration
For a Group of Contributions to Periodicals
||an adjunct application to be used for registration
of a group of contributions to periodicals in addition to an
How to Obtain Application Forms
See "For Further Information."
You must have Adobe
Acrobat Reader ® installed on your computer to view and print the
forms accessed on the Internet. Adobe Acrobat Reader may be downloaded
free from Adobe Systems Incorporated through links from the same Internet
site from which the forms are available.
Print forms head to head (top of page 2 is directly behind the top of
page 1) on a single piece of good quality, 8-1/2-inch by 11-inch white
paper. To achieve the best quality copies of the application forms, use a
FILL-IN FORMS AVAILABLE
All Copyright Office forms are available on the Copyright Office
Website in fill-in version. Go to www.copyright.gov/forms
and follow the instructions. The fill-in forms allow you to enter
information while the form is displayed on the screen by an Adobe Acrobat
Reader product. You may then print the completed form and mail it to the
Copyright Office. Fill-in forms provide a clean, sharp printout for your
records and for filing with the Copyright Office.
All remittances should be in the form of drafts, that is, checks, money
orders, or bank drafts, payable to: Register of Copyrights.
Do not send cash. Drafts must be redeemable without service or exchange
fee through a U. S. institution, must be payable in U. S. dollars, and
must be imprinted with American Banking Association routing numbers.
International Money Orders and Postal Money Orders that are negotiable
only at a post office are not acceptable.
If a check received in payment of the filing fee is returned to the
Copyright Office as uncollectible, the Copyright Office will cancel the
registration and will notify the remitter.
The filing fee for processing an original, supplementary, or renewal
claim is nonrefundable, whether or not copyright registration is
Do not send cash. The Copyright Office cannot assume
any responsibility for the loss of currency sent in payment of copyright
fees. For further information, request Circular
4, "Copyright Fees."
Certain Fees and Services May Be Charged to a Credit Card
Some fees may be charged by telephone and in person in the office.
Others may only be charged in person in the office. Credit card payments
are generally authorized only for services that do not require filing of
applications or other materials. An exception is made for fees related to
items that are hand-carried into the Public Information Office.
Certifications and Documents Section: These fees may be charged
in person in the office or by phone: additional certificates;
copies of documents and deposits; searching, locating and retrieving
deposits; certifications; and expedited processing.
Public Information Office: These fees may only be charged in
person in the office, not by phone: standard registration request
forms; special handling requests for all standard registration requests;
requests for services provided by the Certifications and Documents Section
when the request is accompanied by a request for special handling; search
requests for which a fee estimate has been provided; additional fee for
each claim using the same deposit; full term retention fees; appeal fees;
Secure Test processing fee; short fee payments when accompanied by a
Remittance Due Notice; in-process retrieval fees; and online service
Reference and Bibliography Section: Requests for searches on a
regular or expedited basis can be charged to a credit card by phone.
Records Maintenance Unit: Computer time on COINS, printing from
the Optical Disk, and photocopying can be charged in person in the office.
Fiscal Control Section: Deposit Accounts maintained by the
Fiscal Control Section may be replenished by credit card. See Circular
5, "How to Open and Maintain a Deposit Account in the Copyright
NIE recordations and claims filed on Forms GATT and GATT/GRP may be
paid by credit card if the card number is included in a separate letter
that accompanies the form.
Copyright Office fees are subject to change. For current fees,
please check the Copyright Office Website at www.copyright.gov,
write the Copyright Office, or call (202) 707-3000.
The records of the Copyright Office are open for inspection and
searching by the public. Moreover, on request, the Copyright Office will
search its records for you at the statutory hourly rate of $75 for each
hour or fraction of an hour. (See Note above.) For
information on searching the Office records concerning the copyright
status or ownership of a work, request Circular
22, "How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work," and
"The Copyright Card Catalog and the Online Files of the Copyright
Copyright Office records in machine-readable form cataloged from
January 1, 1978, to the present, including registration and renewal
information and recorded documents, are now available for searching from
the Copyright Office website at www.copyright.gov.
Information via the Internet: Circulars,
announcements, regulations, other related materials, and all copyright
application forms are available from the Copyright Office Website at www.copyright.gov.
Information by fax: Circulars and other information
(but not application forms) are available from Fax-on-Demand at (202)
Information by telephone: For general information
about copyright, call the Copyright Public Information Office at (202)
707-3000. The TTY number is (202) 707-6737. Information specialists are on
duty from 8:30 a. m. to 5:00 p. m. Monday through Friday, eastern time,
except federal holidays. Recorded information is available 24 hours a day.
Or, if you know which application forms and circulars you want, request
them from the Forms and Publications Hotline at (202) 707-9100 24 hours a
day. Leave a recorded message.
Information by regular mail: Write to:
Library of Congress
Publications Section, LM-455
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000
For a list of other material published by the Copyright Office, request
"Publications on Copyright."
|The Copyright Office provides a free electronic
mailing list, NewsNet, that issues periodic email
messages on the subject of copyright. The messages alert
subscribers to hearings, deadlines for comments, new and proposed
regulations, new publications, and other copyright-related
subjects of interest. NewsNet is not an interactive discussion
group. To subscribe, send a message to LISTSERV@LOC.GOV.
In the body of the message say: SUBSCRIBE USCOPYRIGHT. or fill in
the subscription form online at www.copyright.gov/newsnet
You will receive a standard welcoming message indicating that your
subscription to NewsNet has been accepted.
The Copyright Public Information Office is open to the public 8:30 a.m.
to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, eastern time, except federal holidays.
The office is located in the Library of Congress, James Madison Memorial
Building, Room 401, at 101 Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C.,
near the Capitol South Metro stop. Information specialists are available
to answer questions, provide circulars, and accept applications for
registration. Access for disabled individuals is at the front door on
Independence Avenue, S.E.
The Copyright Office is not permitted to give legal advice. If
information or guidance is needed on matters such as disputes over the
ownership of a copyright, suits against possible infringers, the procedure
for getting a work published, or the method of obtaining royalty payments,
it may be necessary to consult an attorney
Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue, S. E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000
Rev: December 2000
This electronic version has been altered slightly from the original
printed text for presentation on the World Wide Web. For a copy of
the original circular, consult the pdf
version or write to Copyright Office, 101 Independence Avenue S.E.,
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000.
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