Copyright Office Adopts Final Rule to Address Disruption of Copyright Office Electronic Systems

The U.S. Copyright Office has issued a final rule to address the effect of a disruption or suspension of any Office electronic system on the Office’s receipt of applications, fees, deposits, or other materials. The Copyright Office received six comments in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, all of which were supportive of the proposed regulation changes. The final rule specifies how the Office will assign effective dates of receipt to materials attempted to be submitted during a disruption or suspension of an Office electronic system. In addition, the final rule specifies how the Office will assign effective dates of receipt when a specific submission that is physically delivered or attempted to be physically delivered to the Office is lost or misplaced in the absence of a declaration of disruption, as might occur during the security screening procedures used for mail that is delivered to the Office.

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Pilot Program for Bulk Submissions of Copyright Registration Applications

Photographers often are also writers or bloggers. So it’s good news that the U.S. Copyright Office has published a public notice announcing a pilot program that will allow for the bulk submission of copyright registration applications in certain limited types of literary works.  Specifically, at this time, the pilot program is limited to claims to single literary works that have a single author, where all content that appears in the work was created and is owned solely by that single author.  Applicants that participate in the pilot will be required to provide author, title, and other pertinent information for each work they submit; upload a copy of each work; and pay the appropriate filing fee.  However they will be able to bypass the Office’s online interface and transmit their claims directly into the electronic registration system instead of filing them on an individual basis.

To participate in the pilot, applicants would have to comply with certain technical requirements.  For example, applicants would need to cooperate with and obtain approval from the Office’s technology staff during each phase, as the Office creates a separate portal into the eCO system for each participant.

The Office is offering this pilot as part of its continuing effort to increase the efficiency of the registration system for both applicants and the Office alike.

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Copyright Registration Tip

 

It’s a given that registering your copyrights is a good thing. While the eCO system has made it easier, you sometimes may get stuck in the process.

Which is what happened to me recently. While uploading the deposit copies for a registration, it looked as though I lost my internet connection. Thinking that the files didn’t get submitted, I uploaded them again. When the Copyright Office (“CO”) sent me emails with the “Acknowledgement of Uploaded Deposit,” I realized that I had duplicates.

Uh, oh.

The eCO website states:

Please note: Files cannot be returned or deleted once uploaded. To avoid delays and/or a later effective date of registration, please verify the following before uploading a copy of your work(s):

Since I couldn’t delete the duplicates, I contacted the CO, stating:

When uploading files for a registration, the website appeared to freeze. Therefore, I unintentionally uploaded some files twice. Do I need to fix this or should I close the registration? Thank you!

The CO responded within 3 days:

Duplicate files are not a problem, however after filing, reply with the application case number so we can place a note re this matter.

I closed the registration and gave the CO the application number.

Case closed! Thanks, CO!

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Copyright Office Proposes Amending Regulations to Address Disruption of Copyright Office Electronic Systems

The U.S. Copyright Office is proposing to amend its regulations to address the effect of a disruption or suspension of any Office electronic system on the Office’s receipt of applications, fees, deposits, or other materials.  The amended regulations specify how the Office will assign effective dates of receipt to materials attempted to be submitted during a disruption or suspension of an Office electronic system.  In addition, the proposed rule specifies how the Office will assign effective dates of receipt when a specific submission is lost in the absence of a declaration of disruption, as might occur during the security screening procedures used for mail that is delivered to the Office.

The Office seeks public comments on the proposed regulations that will be considered in promulgating a final rule.

The proposed regulations and instructions on how to submit a comment are available here. Written comments must be received no later than April 3, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time.

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Final Rule Adopted to Remove Personally Identifiable Information from Registration Records

The U.S. Copyright Office issued a final rule to allow authors and claimants to replace in or remove from the Office’s online registration catalog personally identifiable information (PII). This rule allows authors, claimants, or their authorized representatives to pay a fee and request the removal of certain PII requested by the Office and collected on registration applications, such as names, home addresses, or personal phone numbers. The PII will be removed from the Office’s Internet-accessible public catalog but retained in the Office’s offline records as required by law. The rule also codifies an existing practice that removes extraneous PII free of charge, such as driver’s license numbers, social security numbers, banking information, and credit card information, whether by the Office’s own volition or upon request by authors, claimants, or their authorized representatives.

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Take Survey to Provide Info on Copyright Registrations

As previously reported, the U.S. Copyright Office is reviewing the rules on group registration of photographs, group registration of contributions to periodicals, and supplementary registration. In response, several photography organizations:

  • American Photographic Artists
  • American Society of Media Photographers
  • National Press Photographers Association
  • North American Nature Photography Association
  • Professional Photographers of America
  • PLUS Coalition

are conducting a 15-question survey to collect, collate, and provide information to the Copyright Office on these important issues. Participate in this survey by midnight EST January 21, 2017, so that the Copyright Office can hear your voice.

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Copyright Office Extends Comment Period in Rulemakings on Supplementary Registration, Group Registration of Photographs, and Group Registration of Contributions to Periodicals

The U.S. Copyright Office is extending the deadline for submitting written comments in response to three notices of proposed rulemaking on supplementary registration, group registration of photographs, and group registration of contributions to periodicals. These notices were published in the Federal Register on December 1, 2016. Written comments on each proposal are now due no later than 11:59 p.m. eastern time on January 30, 2017.

Additional information on the rulemaking involving supplementary registration, including instructions on how to submit a comment, is available here.

Additional information on the rulemaking involving group registration of photographs is available here.

Additional information on the rulemaking involving group registration of contributions to periodicals is available here.

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The U.S. Copyright Office Proposes New Rules for Registering Photographs

The U.S. Copyright Office today published three notices of proposed rulemaking, which are summarized below.

Supplementary Registration: The U.S. Copyright Office is seeking public comments on proposed amendments to its regulation governing supplementary registration. Under the proposed rule, most applicants will be required to submit an online application in order to correct or amplify the information set forth in a basic registration. In addition, the proposed rule will update and codify certain practices that are set forth in the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition, and improve the readability of the regulation. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and instructions on how to submit a comment in this proceeding are available here.

Group Registration of Photographs: The Office is seeking public comments on proposed amendments to its regulation governing the group registration option for published photographs. In addition, the Office is proposing to create a new group registration option for unpublished photographs. Under the proposed rule, applicants will be required to submit an online application and will be allowed to include up to 750 photographs in each submission. The proposed rule will amend the deposit requirement for photographs and photographic databases by requiring applicants to submit their works in digital form. Finally, it will memorialize the Office’s longstanding position regarding the scope of a group registration of photographs. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and instructions on how to submit a comment in this proceeding are available here.

Group Registration of Contributions to Periodicals: The Office is seeking public comments on proposed amendments to its regulation governing the group registration option for contributions to periodicals. Under the proposed rule, applicants will be required to file their claims through the electronic registration system and upload their contributions in a digital format. The proposed rule will modify some of the eligibility requirements for this group option. It will confirm that the Office may refuse registration or cancel a group registration if these requirements have not been met. And it will memorialize the Office’s longstanding position regarding the scope of a group registration for contributions to periodicals. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and instructions on how to submit a comment in this proceeding are available here.

Written comments must be received no later than January 3, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

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Don’t Get Your Copyright Advice from Mr. Wonderful

On Shark Tank last Friday, an entrepreneur with a clothing design business reported that a third-party company had copied her t-shirt design, which later was sold at Target. Target removed the shirts from its stores after the designer complained.

Mr. Wonderful (Kevin O’Leary), then asked, “Did you copyright your design?” The designer replied, “I had not at the time . . . .” Mr. Wonderful then asserted “So they really hadn’t broken any law at the time.”

~WRONG!~

A work is protected by copyright “when fixed in a tangible medium of expression.” Even if the work is never registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, the copyright exists and is protected by copyright law. So, once the designer printed her t-shirt design, she owned a copyright and likely would be entitled to the profits that Target and the third-party company obtained from the infringing sales.

If a copyright for a work is registered, the owner gets additional benefits such as the option to recover statutory damages for infringements and the inference that the person who registered the copyright is the owner.

During the show, Shark Lori Greiner then added, “. . . it’s a great lesson, though, in knowing that when you have unique designs, copyright them. It’s not a lot of money to do so.”

Good advice, Lori, except it’s better to call it “registering” your copyright. If copyright owners tell others that they are “copyrighting” their works when they actually are registering them, others may believe that the works are not protected until that time.

To best protect your works, register your copyrights today (and refer to it that way).

 

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Do You Want to Remove Your ID Info from Copyright Office Records?

The U.S. Copyright Office today published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”), seeking public comment on proposed new rules related to personally identifiable information (“PII”) that may be found in the Office’s registration records. First, the proposed rule will allow an author, claimant of record, or the authorized agent of the author or claimant of record, to request the removal of certain PII that is requested by the Office and collected on a registration application, such as home addresses or personal phone numbers, from the Office’s internet-accessible public catalog, while retaining it in the Office’s offline records as required by law. Second, the proposed rule will codify an existing practice regarding extraneous PII that applicants erroneously include on registration applications even though the Office has not requested it, such as driver’s license numbers, social security numbers, banking information, and credit card information. Under the proposed rule, the Office would, upon request, remove such extraneous PII both from the Office’s internet-accessible public catalog and its offline records.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and instructions on how to submit a comment are available here. Written comments must be received no later than October 17, 2016, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.

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