Recordation and Reengineering

The U.S. Copyright Office has released a report on recordation of copyright-related documents prepared by Professor Robert Brauneis of George Washington University Law School. While on sabbatical leave in 2013–14, Brauneis served as the Copyright Office’s first Abraham L. Kaminstein Scholar in Residence.

Each year, authors, heirs, copyright owners, and others submit thousands of documents concerning hundreds of thousands of works to the Copyright Office for public recordation. Since 2011, the Office has been taking steps to reengineer its documents recordation system, which remains a paper-driven process. Professor Brauneis researched best practices in documents recordation and oversaw a public inquiry involving solicitation of comments, followed by roundtables in California and New York.

The report Professor Brauneis submitted to the Register of Copyrights advises the Copyright Office to build an electronic recordation system to parallel its registration system, a process that has already begun. To inform development of electronic recordation, the report analyzes issues such as how to allocate responsibility for providing document cataloging information, how best to store and make available electronic documents, and how to accept and authenticate electronic signatures. The report also analyzes historical trends in document recordation, including increased use of security interests in copyrights in financial transactions.