Record Type Definitions

Copy Record Books

copy record bookOriginally, requests for copyright registration were filed with the district court where they were hand written in the first Copyright Record Books. The Copyright Office has a microfilm copy of the Record Books from 1790 to 1870. The original Record Books are in the Rare Book Collection of the Library of Congress. After copyright functions were centralized in the Library of Congress in 1870, requests for copyright registration were accepted and recorded in Record Books that are still in the possession of the Copyright Office. The Record Books are shelved by year and the entries they contain are in the order of the number assigned to the registration or recordation. The Record Books contain approximately 19,837,961 pages. 

Bound Application Forms

bound application formThe primary source of copyright facts for a registration record is the application form. Application forms in catalog card size (31/4"6" and 61/2"6" folded) were first used in 1898 and were filed in the card catalog as the claimant entry. From 1938 to 1945 these card applications were filed in the catalog by registration number. During the periods when applications were in card format and filed in the catalog, the entries in the Record Books were hand written references to the applications in ledger format. After 1945 the applications, no longer in card format, were bound into Record Books (see above).


Historical Copyright Card Catalog

bound application formIt is largely from the application form that the information is taken to compose the finding aids for a registration or renewal record including most of the copyright facts about the work. Prior to 1978 the finding aids were in the form of cards in the Copyright Office card catalog, generally one card each for the title(s), author(s) and claimant(s).

The card catalog also contains entries for recorded documents, generally one card for each title, assignee, and assignor. Since 1978 the finding aids have been in the form of electronic records available online at the Library of Congress or via the web. The cards and the electronic records contain the number assigned to the registration or recordation which is the pointer to the corresponding content in the Record Books or on microfilm. The card catalog contains approximately 48,868,000 cards including approximately 7,903,000 application cards. The card catalog is divided into 6 time periods and the cards for recorded documents are filed separately.

Published Catalogs of Copyright Entries (CCE's)

copyright entriesThe Catalogs of Copyright Entries (CCE's) are published compilations of registration and renewal records during specific time periods ranging in length from semiweekly to semiannually. Within each issue the entries are generally listed by author or title with indexes by title and claimant. Each entry contains information similar to that found in the corresponding catalog card.

The Copyright Office has two complete bound sets of CCE's covering July 1, 1891 through 1977. They may be the only full printed sets in existence. According to the Government Printing Office the CCE's are out of print and a cursory search of several depository libraries indicates that they probably don't maintain full sets of the CCE's. There are 660 bound volumes containing approximately 450,000 pages in each set of the CCE's.

Recorded Documents Pertaining to Copyright Ownership

recdocpercop Transfers and assignments of copyright ownership come to the Office in the form of legal documents identifying the party who presently owns the rights and the party to whom some or all of the rights are being transferred and specifying the period of time and the specific works involved.

From the original document, a record of the assignment or transfer was composed and prior to 1978 filed as cards in the card catalog similar to registrations and since 1978 as electronic records in the same database as registrations. Up to 1998, the documents were microfilmed and are retrievable onsite at the Copyright Office by document number. Photostat copies of documents from 1870 to 1953 are bound and comprise approximately 490,050 pages of the Record Books. Documents from 1870 to 1998 have also been scanned from the microfilm copies and stored in PDF format. Since 1998, all documents have been scanned as a part of routine processing and TIFF images of the documents are available online at the Copyright Office. There are no Catalogs of Copyright Entries for recorded documents.