U.S. Copyright Office
Library of Congress
Compendium II: Copyright Office Practices (Chapter 1600)

RECORDATION OF TRANSFERS
AND
OTHER DOCUMENTS PERTAINING TO A COPYRIGHT


1601 Applicability of this chapter. This chapter contains the requirements for the recordation of transfers and other documents pertaining to a copyright under 17 U.S.C. 205, and the termination of transfers and licenses granted by the author covering the extended renewal term under 17 U.S.C. 304(c). The practices concerning the filing or recordation of the following documents are not included either in this chapter or elsewhere in Compendium II, and requirements other than those in this chapter may apply.

1) Certain contracts entered into by cable systems located outside of the 48 contiguous states. See 17 U.S.C. 111(e) and 37 C.F.R. 201.12.

2) Notices of Identity and Signal Carriage Complement, and Statements of Account of cable systems. See 17 U.S.C. 111(d) and 37 C.F.R. 201.11 and 201.17.


3) Original, signed notices of intention to obtain compulsory license to make and distribute phonorecords of nondramatic musical works. See 17 U.S.C. 115(b) and 37 C.F.R. 201.18.


4) License agreements, and terms and rates of royalty payments, voluntarily negotiated between one or more public broadcasting entities and certain owners of copyright. See 17 U.S.C. 118 and 37 C.F.R. 201.9.

5) Statements regarding the identity of authors of anonymous and pseudonymous works, and statements relating to the death of authors. See 17 U.S.C. 302.

6) Notices of intent to enforce [NIE's] filed under the URAA. See 17 U.S.C. 104A, 109(b), Chapter 11, and 37 C.F.R. 201.33.


1602 Statutory provisions relating to transfers and other documents pertaining to a copyright. The following are the principal statutory provisions relating to transfers and other documents pertaining to a copyright.


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1602 Statutory provisions relating to transfers and other documents pertaining to a copyright. (cont'd)


1602.01 Execution of transfers of copyright ownership. A transfer of copyright ownership, other than by operation of law, is not valid unless an instrument of conveyance, or a note or memorandum of the transfer, is in writing and signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or such owner's duly authorized agent. 17 U.S.C. 204.


1602.02 Recordation of transfers and other documents: conditions for recordation. Any transfer of copyright ownership or other document pertaining to a copyright may be recorded in the Copyright Office if the document filed for recordation bears the actual signature of the person who executed it, or if it is accompanied by a sworn or official certification that it is a true copy of the original, signed document. 17 U.S.C. 205(a).


1603 Copyright Office policy. The Copyright Office will not attempt to judge the legal sufficiency or interpret the substantive contents of a purported transfer or other document. A document will be verified to determine whether the requirements for recordation have been met.


1603.01 Transfers: If the document purports to be a transfer of a copyright and is signed by the owner of the rights conveyed, the owner's authorized agent, or one entitled to make the transfer, it will be indexed as a "transfer".


1603.02 Other documents pertaining to a copyright. Any other document, including a self-serving declaration, an abandonment of copyright, bankruptcy papers, and the like, will be recorded in the Copyright Office, if it pertains to a copyright. A document shall be considered to "pertain to a copyright" if it has a direct or indirect relationship to the existence, scope, duration, or identification of a copyright, or to the ownership, division, allocation, licensing, transfer, or exercise of rights under a copyright. That relationship may be past, present, future, or potential.


See 37 C.F.R. 201.4.


1603.03 When recordation suggested. The Copyright Office may point out the recordation provisions of the law and the possibility of recording an instrument.


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1603 Copyright Office policy. (cont'd)


1603.03 When recordation suggested. (cont'd)

Example:


An application for registration is submitted where a claim in the same work has already been registered in the name of the prior owner of copyright. When the second registration is sought to reflect the change of ownership, the Copyright Office will refuse to make a second registration, but will point out the possibility of reflecting the change in ownership by recording the instrument of transfer.


1604 The nature of the document. A document may be questioned by the Copyright Office when there is no indication of any direct or indirect relationship to a copyright claim.


Example:


A bill of lading referring to a shipment of motion picture films.


1604.01 Recordation not a substitute for registration. A document may be recorded even if a claim to copyright in the work to which it refers has not been registered for copyright.


1604.02 Relationship between document and copyright unclear. Where the relationship between the document to be recorded and a potential copyright claim is unclear or obscure, the Office may clarify that recordation is in no case a substitute for copyright registration. Similarly, a registration is not a substitute for recordation.


1604.03 Document apparently submitted in error. Where it seems probable that the document has been submitted to the Copyright Office in error, it may be questioned or, in clear cases, returned without recordation.


Example:


An assignment of rights limited to a trademark or patent.



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1605 Document Cover Sheet Processing.

Cases submitted with a document cover sheet will be processed and verified in the same manner as a document submitted without a cover sheet. Neither category of document will receive priority processing.


1606 Practices for processing documents.


1606.01 Formal sufficiency of document. In order to be regarded as a "transfer," a document must generally meet the following formal requirements:


1) It must be "an instrument in writing."

2) It must be signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or by such owner's duly authorized agent.

3) It must identify the transferor and transferee.

4) It must contain words of conveyance.


5) It must be complete by its own terms.


1606.02 Instrument in writing. To be recordable, the instrument must be in writing. The Copyright Office does not provide, suggest, or require any special form for the transfer of a copyright or other document pertaining to a copyright that is recorded under Section 205. Any type of legible document which meets the other formal requirements will be accepted for recordation, if it contains an individual's actual signature or an acceptable alternative. See 1606.03 and 1606.08 below.

Examples:

1) Handwritten or typewritten original.

2) Transfer in the form of a letter; [note that the letter should not be addressed to the Copyright Office].

3) Carbon of original.

4) Printed original.


1606.03 Actual signature. To be recordable, the document must bear the actual signature or signatures of the person or persons who executed it. Alternatively, the document may be recorded if it is a legible photocopy or other full-size facsimile reproduction of the signed document,

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1606 Practices for processing documents. (cont'd)


1606.03 Actual signature. (cont'd)


accompanied by a sworn certification or an official certification that the reproduction is a true copy of the signed document. Any sworn certification accompanying a reproduction must be signed by at least one of the persons who executed the document, or by an authorized representative of that person. See 17 U.S.C. 205 and 37 C.F.R. 201.4(c)(1).


1606.03(a) Sworn certification or declaration. A "sworn certification" is an affidavit under the official seal of any officer authorized to administer oaths within the United States, or if the original is located outside of the United States, under the official seal of any diplomatic or consular officer of the United States or of a person authorized to administer oaths whose authority is proved by the certificate of such an officer, or by a statement given "under penalty of perjury". See 28 U.S.C. 1746. 37 C.F.R. 201.4(a)(3)(i). An alternative to a notarized certification is a declaration under penalty of perjury that the accompanying document is a true and correct copy of the original. See 28 U.S.C. 1746.


1606.03(b) Official certification. An "official certification" is a certification, by the appropriate Government official, that the original of the document is on file in a public office and that the reproduction is a true copy of the original. See 37 C.F.R. 201.4(a)(3)(ii).


Examples:

1) Copy of a certificate of corporate merger, bearing the certification of the Secretary of State.

2) Court decree establishing a change of name of a person, certified by the clerk of the court.

1606.04 Illegible document. An illegible document or one which cannot be reproduced legibly will not be accepted for recordation. See 37 C.F.R. 201.4(c)(3).


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1606 Practices for processing documents. (cont'd)


1606.05 Signature of transferor. (cont'd)


1606.05(a) Unsigned document. As a rule, the document to be recorded should contain the actual handwritten signature of the person executing the document or of such person's duly authorized agent. See 37 C.F.R. 201.4(c)(1). An unsigned document will be returned for signature before recordation.


1606.05(b) Multi-party instrument. If a number of transferors are identified in the body of the document, and spaces have been provided for the signatures of all of them, the document will be questioned if any of the signatures is missing, unless an additional copy of the document containing the missing signatures is submitted for recordation at the same time. Each such instrument of transfer is indexed only under the particular signatures it contains.

1606.06 Apparent inconsistency. Reconcilable variance between names: indexing. When there is a reconcilable variance between the signature on the document and the name of the transferor appearing in the body of the document, the instrument will generally be indexed under what is determined to be the fullest form of the legal name. The document will generally not be indexed under the name of the agent or official of a corporation or other impersonal legal entity. Where the document has been signed by a legal representative or attorney-in-fact, it will be indexed under the name of the person whom the signer represents.

1606.07 Signature of individual. As a rule, the signature should be the actual handwritten signature of an individual person, and should give the individual's own name rather than that of the person or organization he or she may represent.


Examples:


1) A pencil signature is acceptable.


2) A hand-printed signature is acceptable.


3) A printed, typewritten, rubber-stamped, or facsimile signature will be questioned.


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1606 Practices for processing documents. (cont'd)


1606.07 Signature of individual. (cont'd)


4) A person's mark is acceptable if accompanied by another person's signature attesting to its authenticity.


5) The signature need not be legible or include the full name of the signer if the name is sufficiently identified elsewhere in the document; but initials or a monogram will generally not be regarded as a signature.


1607 Identification of parties. In general, any document purporting to transfer a copyright or rights under a copyright should clearly identify the transferee as well as the transferor.


1607.01 Failure to identify necessary parties. Documents which do not identify the necessary parties will be questioned, but recordation will not be refused if, following correspondence, the sender continues to request recordation.


Examples:


1) "I, John Doe, do hereby assign all rights, including copyright, in the work entitled HOW TO BURN TOAST." (Transferee not named).

2) ". . . copyright for the work `How to Excel in the Practice of Law,' is hereby assigned to Richard Roe, as Executor of the author . . . ." (The author not identified by name.)


1607.02 Indexing. When a document which does not identify the necessary parties is recorded, it will be indexed only under the names it contains; no indexing will be done under other names furnished in correspondence or elsewhere. See section 1608.03 below.

1607.03 One-party documents. A document which necessarily involves only one party (e.g., an affidavit) will be indexed under the single name involved.


1608 Constructive Notice. Recordation of a document gives all persons constructive notice of the facts stated in the recorded document, if the work has been registered and the material to which the document pertains is identified. See 17 U.S.C. 205(c).


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1608 Constructive Notice. (cont'd)


1608.01 The document, or material attached to it, must identify the work to which it pertains so that, after the document is indexed by the Copyright Office, it would be revealed by a reasonable search under the title or registration

number of the work.


1608.02 Failure to identify work. A document which does not identify the work will not be questioned.


If the material which is the subject of the document is otherwise adequately identified but does not contain the title, it will not be questioned.


Example:


A document covering "an unpublished novel about New York's Empire State Building, by Jack Douglas." Note: this document will not receive constructive notice.


1608.03 Outside sources. A document will be indexed only under the titles or other identifying matter it contains.


1609 Completeness of document. In general, a document will not be recorded unless it is complete by its own terms.


1609.01 Attachments. A document that contains a reference to any schedule, appendix, exhibit, addendum, or other material as being attached to the document or made a part of it shall be recordable only if the attachment is also submitted for recordation with the document or if the reference is deleted by the parties to the document.


1609.01(a) Document returned for amendment. If a document has been submitted for recordation and has been returned by the Copyright Office at the request of the sender for deletion of the reference to an attachment, the document will be recorded only if the deletion is signed or initialed by the person(s) who executed the document or by that person's authorized representative.


1609.01(b) Exception. A document containing a reference to an attachment will be recorded without the attached material and without deletion of the reference if the sender asserts in writing

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1609 Completeness of document. (cont'd)


1609.01 Attachments. (cont'd)

1609.01(b) Exception. (cont'd)

that all three of the following factors exist and specifically requests that the document be recorded as submitted: (1) the attachment is completely unavailable for recordation; and (2) the attachment is not essential to identify the subject matter of the document; and (3) it would be impossible or wholly impractical to have the parties to the document sign or initial a deletion of the reference. In such cases, the Copyright Office record of the document will be annotated to show that recordation was made in response to a specific request.


See 37 C.F.R. 201.4(c)(2).


1610 Incorporation by reference. When the document submitted for recordation merely identifies or incorporates by reference another document, or certain terms of another document, the Copyright Office will not question its completeness. 37 C.F.R. 201.4(c)(2)(iii).


Example:


A document reads in part as follows: "In accordance with the terms of mutual undertaking previously entered into between the parties on January 2, 1978, which is incorporated by reference herewith, John Doe hereby transfers..."


1611 Part of a larger document. A document that is otherwise recordable which indicates on its face that it is a self-contained part of a larger document, will be recorded without question. See 37 C.F.R. 204(c)(2)(ii).


Example:

The document is marked "Attachment A" or "Exhibit B".


1612 Additional Practices. As a rule, no attempt is made to verify the facts stated in the document submitted for recordation. Titles, registration numbers, authors, dates, and the like are transcribed without checking their accuracy.



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1612 Additional Practices. (cont'd)


1612.01 Minor Typographical Errors. Where a minor typographical error appears in the document, the document will be indexed under the correct name or title.


Examples:


1) "Great Russiand Short Stories"


2) "Macame Du Barry"


1612.02 Date of execution. A document should contain the complete date on which it was executed. If the complete date is not given, the catalog record will reflect as much information as is given. 17 U.S.C. 205 provides that in the case of conflicting documents, statutory priority is given to transfers recorded within one month of execution in the United States or two months after execution outside the United States or the one recorded first.


1613 Documents to correct or amplify Copyright Office records. In most cases, a supplementary registration should be submitted to correct or amplify a completed Copyright Office registration. However, if the sender insists, the Office will accept for recordation a document giving the pertinent information. For detailed practices in this connection, see Chapter 1500: CORRECTIONS AND AMPLIFICATIONS OF COPYRIGHT OFFICE RECORDS; SUPPLEMENTARY REGISTRATIONS.


1614 Certificate of acknowledgment. A certificate of acknowledgment is not required for the validity of a transfer, but is prima facie evidence of the execution of the transfer if:


1) In the case of a transfer executed in the United States, the certificate is issued by a person authorized to administer oaths within the United States; or


2) In the case of a transfer executed in a foreign country, the certificate is issued by a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States, or by a person authorized to administer oaths whose authority is proved by a certificate of such an officer.


See 17 U.S.C. 204(b).


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1615 Recordation. In general, the recordation procedure includes initial verification of documents and document cover sheets, determination of the recording fee, assigning identifying volume, document and page numbers, imaging the document and cover sheet, if any, preparing an index entry under the appropriate names and titles, and returning the recorded document with a certificate of record.


1615.01 Date of recordation. The date of recordation is the date upon which an acceptable document and required fee are received in the Copyright Office. See 37 C.F.R. 201.4.


1615.01(a) Document returned for correction. When a document is returned to the sender for correction, the date on which the corrected document is received in the Copyright Office is regarded as the date of recordation.


1615.01(b) Less than entire fee received. When less than the required fee is received in the Copyright Office, the date of recordation is the date on which the amount of the total required fee is received in the Copyright Office.


Example:


If a document containing three titles is received in recordable form, together with only the fee for recording one title, the date of recordation is the date on which the fee covering the additional titles is received in the Copyright Office.


1615.02 Indexing. A recorded document is indexed under the names of the parties and the titles listed in the document. The catalog entry also contains the date of recordation, the date of execution if given in the document, and the volume and document numbers assigned to the document.


1615.03 Amendments in document submitted for recordation. The Copyright Office will not make any changes or corrections in a document submitted for recordation, even when specifically requested or authorized to do so by the sender.




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1615 Recordation. (cont'd)


1615.03 Amendments in document submitted for recordation. (cont'd)


Example:


Sender requests Copyright Office to change the year date of execution from "1968" to "1978."


1615.04 Recordable document returned. When a request to return or change the document is received from the sender, if the Office has not yet assigned a volume and document number, it may return the document to the sender, suggesting that any change be initialed by the persons who executed it. In such cases the date the returned document is received in the Copyright Office will be the date of recordation.

1615.05 Recording fees. A basic recording fee is charged for a single document of any length covering no more than one title. An additional fee is charged for each group of 10 or fewer titles. For specific fee amounts, see 17 U.S.C. 708; see also 37 C.F.R. 201.4(d).


1615.06 Separate transfers. A fee is required for each separate transfer or other document, even if two or more transactions or documents appear on the same page. 37 C.F.R. 201.4(d)(1).


Examples:


1) "A" hereby transfers all right, title, and interest in a musical composition to "B," "C", and "D". This is a single transfer for the purpose of computing the recordation fee.


2) On a single page, but in separate paragraphs: "A" hereby transfers a one-third interest in the copyright in a musical composition to "B". "A" hereby transfers a one-third interest in the copyright in the same musical composition to "C". "A" hereby transfers a one-third interest in the copyright in the same musical composition to "D". The document is signed once. This is a single transfer for the purpose of computing the recordation fee.


[1998]

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1615 Recordation. (cont'd)


1615.06 Separate transfers. (cont'd)


3) The same situation as in example 2 above, but the document is dated and signed by both parties at each paragraph setting out the separate conveyances. This would be regarded as three transfers for the purpose of computing the recordation fee.


4) On a single page: "A" transfers the copyright to "B" who transfers a portion of that right to "C." This would be regarded as two transfers for the purpose of computing the recordation fee.

1615.07 Titles. The term "title" for the purpose of computing the fee for recordation generally denotes "appellation" or "denomination," rather than "registration," "work," or "copyright." 37 C.F.R. 201.4(d)(2).


1615.07(a) Each Title Counted. Generally, each title listed in a document is counted, but designations referring to uncopyrightable matter are not counted.


Examples:


1) A trademark consisting of the word "EKSRON."


2) A mechanical patent designated as "Process for the Impacting of Crushed Marble."


1615.07(b) Single and multiple titles distinguished. A single title that is repeated is counted as a single "title" for the purpose of computing the fee. However, when multiple issues or numbers of a serial, or different chapters or installments are contained in a document, each will be indexed and therefore each is considered to be an individual title for which a separate fee is charged.


Examples of multiple titles:


1) "Fan Club News," vol. 1, no. 3 (June 1981)

"Fan Club News," vol. 1, no. 4 (July 1981)

"Fan Club News," vol. 1, no. 5 (Aug. 1981)



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1615 Recordation. (cont'd)


1615.07 Titles. (cont'd)


1615.07(b) Single and multiple titles distinguished. (cont'd)


2) "Trapped in the Snack Bar," Installment 1

"Trapped in the Snack Bar," Installment II


1615.07(c) Translation. When a work is listed under a title which could be characterized as a translation, the original title and the translation will each be counted separately for the purpose of computing the recordation fee.


Example:


"On the Water (Auf dem Wasser)"


1615.07(d) Same title repeated with descriptive matter indicating multiple works or versions. Where the same title is repeated more than once in the same document, but the repetitions are followed by different descriptive matter, subtitles, names of authors, or the like, indicating different works or different versions, separate fees will be charged.

Examples of two titles:


1) "Rondo" (Massenet)

"Rondo" (Respighi)


2) "You Are the One" (from Summer Romance)

"You Are the One" (from Sunny Days)

1615.07(e) Descriptive material. When a work is listed under a title followed by descriptive matter further describing that single title, only one fee is charged.


Example:


"You Are the One" (Romantic Song)


1615.07(f) Alternative titles. Where a work is clearly listed under alternative titles, or where both old and new titles are clearly indicated, separate fees will be charged. Use of the conjunctive "or" will not

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1615.07(f) Alternative titles. (cont'd)

generally be treated as denoting alternative titles.


Example of one title:


"How to Get Ahead in Life or Ten Ways to Improve Your Memory"

Examples of two titles:


1) "Money Isn't Everything," also known as "Who Wants to Be Rich?"


2) "Cafe Tales," formerly known as "Draw One"


1615.07(g) Additional fees for title indexing. In cases where, under the practices set forth above, a listing is considered to be a single title for purposes of computing the fee, the Copyright Office will nevertheless index the title variations separately, upon the specific request of the sender and payment of any additional fees normally required for multiple titles.

1616 Termination of transfers and licenses granted by the author under the extended renewal term. The following are the practices and provisions relating to the termination of transfers and licenses granted by the author under the extended renewal term.


1616.01 Statutory provision. For any work in its first or renewal term on January 1, 1978, other than a work made for hire, the statute provides for the possibility of termination of any exclusive or nonexclusive grant of a transfer or license of the renewal copyright or any right under it, executed before January 1, 1978, other than by will, by the author or by the successors in interest of the author. See 17 U.S.C. 304(a)(1)(c); (c).


1616.02 Time limits. Termination of the grant may be effected at any time during a period of five years beginning at the end of 56 years from the date copyright was originally secured, or beginning on January 1, 1978, whichever is later. See 17 U.S.C. 304(c)(3).


1616.03 Contents of Notice. The contents of the notice of termination are set forth in regulation 37 C.F.R. 201.10(b). The Copyright Office records notices of termination received in the Office before the

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1616.03 Contents of Notice. (cont'd)

effective date of termination.


1616.04 Copyright Office Policy. The Copyright Office will not examine the legal sufficiency or interpret the substantive contents of a purported termination. A notice of termination will be verified to determine whether certain requirements for recordation as a termination have been met.


1616.05 Notice Must Be Complete. A notice of termination must contain a complete and unambiguous statement of facts without incorporation by reference of information in other documents or records. See 37 C.F.R. 201.10(b).


1616.06 Exact Duplicate of the Notice of Termination. The copy submitted for recordation should be a complete and exact duplicate of the notice of termination as served.


1616.07 Signature. A notice of termination should contain the actual signature or a reproduction of the actual signature of the person or persons identified in the document as being entitled to exercise the right of termination, or of a duly authorized agent of such person or persons. See 37 C.F.R. 201.10(c)(1) for other signature requirements.

1616.07(a) Termination of grant executed by duly authorized agent. Where a signature is that of a duly authorized agent, it shall clearly identify the person or persons on whose behalf the agent is acting. 37 C.F.R. 201.10(c)(3).


1616.07(b) Additional requirements. The handwritten signature of each person effecting the termination shall either be accompanied by a statement of the full name and address of that person, typewritten or printed legibly by hand, or shall clearly correspond to such a statement elsewhere in the notice. 37 C.F.R. 201.10(c)(4).


1616.07(c) Persons not entitled to terminate. Where the Copyright Office is aware that the signature appearing on the document is different from the person named as the one terminating a right, the Office will notify the sender that it cannot record the document as a termination of transfer unless the signature is that of a duly authorized agent.

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1616.08 Legibility of notice of termination. The notice of termination must be in writing and capable of being imaged or reproduced legibly on microfilm. An illegible notice will be returned to the sender for clarification.


1616.09 Date and manner of service. The document submitted for recordation should be accompanied by a statement setting forth the date on which the notice was served and the manner of service, unless such information is contained in the notice. Where such information is not contained in the notice, and the document is not accompanied by a statement setting forth the date and/or manner of service, the Copyright Office will request that the sender submit a separate statement containing this information. This statement must be received in the Office within the designated filing period. It will be attached to the document and will be recorded by the Office.

1616.10 Recordation. The Copyright Office will not refuse to record a document that fails to meet the requirements discussed in section 1616 above, but such document will not be indexed by the Copyright Office as a notice of termination.


1616.11 Recordation without prejudice. Recordation of a notice of termination by the Copyright Office is without prejudice to any party claiming that the legal and formal requirements for issuing a valid notice have not been met. 37 C.F.R. 201.10(f)(4).


1616.12 Photocopied Notices of Termination. Any notice of termination submitted in photocopied form will be accepted without an accompanying certification provided that it meets the requirements of Section 1616 above.


1616.13 Date of recordation. To be effective, a copy of the notice must be recorded in the Copyright Office before the effective date of termination. See 17 U.S.C. 304(c)(4)(A). The date of recordation is the date when all of the elements required for recordation, including the prescribed fee and, if required, the statement setting forth the date on which the notice was served and the manner of service, have been received in the Copyright Office. After recordation, the document, including any accompanying statement, is returned to the sender with a certificate of record. See 37 C.F.R. 201.10(f)(3).


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1617 Termination of transfers and licenses granted by the author on or after January 1, 1978. The practices set forth in section 1616 above are restricted to terminations under the extended renewal term provided in section 304(c) of the current Act. Practices regarding the parallel statutory provision governing termination of grants executed by the author on or after January l, 1978, under section 203 of the current Act, have not been established yet because the right of termination thereunder cannot be invoked in an appropriate termination document until the year 2003 or later. A document that purports to terminate a grant executed on or after January 1, 1978, may be recorded, but such document will not be indexed by the Copyright Office as a notice of termination.


[END OF CHAPTER 1600]



[1998]

Copyright Office * Library of Congress * Washington, D.C. 20559-6000

07/07/98



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