Table of Contents
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published and unpublished works.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;
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"
- (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
- a sound recording
- 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
- 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
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 be; or
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:
- (1) literary works;
- (2) musical works, including any accompanying words
- (3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music
- (4) pantomimes and choreographic works
- (5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
- (6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works
- (7) sound recordings
- (8) 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 common sources)
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
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 publication.
|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 Act.
Certain foreign works originally published without notice had
their copyrights restored under the Uruguay Round Agreements Act
(URAA). Request Circular
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 public display.
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
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: © 2000 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 recording; and
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.
2000 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: © 2000 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 © 1999 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
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, 2012, and for works published on or before December 31, 2013, the
term of copyright will not expire before December 31, 2047.
Works Originally Created and Published or Registered before January
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 term.
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 intestate succession.
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 attorney.
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,
38a, "International Copyright Relations of the United
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 (effective through June 30,
2002) for each application.
Copyright Office fees are subject to change. For current
fees, please check the Copyright Office Website at www.loc.gov/copyright,
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
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 fee...."
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 Addendum, and
- A nonrefundable filing fee of $45 without Addendum; $60 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 Catalog
Card Number is different from a copyright registration
number. The Cataloging in Publication (CIP) Division of the
Library of Congress is responsible for assigning LC Catalog Card
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 Catalog Card
Number, see the following homepage: lcweb2.loc.gov/pcn.
For information on International Standard Book Numbering (ISBN),
write to: ISBN, R. R. Bowker, 121 Chanlon Road, New Providence,
NJ 07974. Call (877) 310-7333 . For further information and to
apply online, see www.bowker.com/standards/.
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 $65. (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,
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
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 of Congress."
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
||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
||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
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 application Form
TX, PA, or VA
How to Obtain Application Forms
See "For Further
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 laser printer.
FILL-IN FORMS AVAILABLE
All Copyright Office forms are available on the Copyright Office
Website in fill-in version. 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."
Copyright Office fees are subject to change. For current fees,
please check the Copyright Office Website at www.loc.gov/copyright,
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 $65 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 Circular 23,
"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 on
Information via the Internet: EMAIL : firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright Incorporate USA, Inc. 1994 -2012