Help: Author

Author's Name

The author of a work is responsible for its creation. Normally, the author is the person who actually creates the authorship being claimed. The only exception occurs when authorship is created as a work made for hire. In this case, the employer is considered the author, not the employee who created the authorship. (See below for information on works made for hire). The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author.

Work Made for Hire

A work made for hire is either

or

If a work is made for hire, the employer is the author. See “statutory definition” below.

Statutory definition

A work made for hire is defined as:

  • A work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment, or
  • A work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as 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.A supplementary work is defined as a work prepared for publication as a secondary adjunct to a work by another author for the purpose of introducing, concluding, illustrating, explaining, revising, commenting upon, or assisting in the use of the other work, such as forewords, afterwords, pictorial illustrations, maps, charts, tables, editorial notes, musical arrangements, answer material for tests, bibliographies, appendices and indexes.

Doing Business As

If the author is doing business under another name and as long as the two names represent one and the same entity (such as an unincorporated organization), give this information in a “Note to Copyright Office” on the Certification screen. The relationship may also be expressed as “trading as,” “sole owner of,” “also known as,” and “acceptable alternative designation.” Note: Do not refer to a relationship between an individual and a corporation or partnership; such organizations are separate legal entities from individuals associated with them. Thus, “John Smith doing business as XYZ Corporation” is not an acceptable entry.

Examples:

John Smith (author) doing business as Smith Publishing Company
Sue Jones (author) trading as Jones Productions

Dates of Author's Birth and Death

The author's Year of Birth is optional but is useful as a form of identification. Note that, if given, this information will appear in the public record. Leave this space blank if the author is an organization.

If the author is deceased, the copyright law requires that the Year of Death be included in the application (unless the work is anonymous or pseudonymous and the author is not named on the application).

Author's Citizenship or Domicile

Give the country of which the author is a citizen and or the country in which the author is domiciled. A domicile is the place where an individual has his/her permanent home. For the citizenship of a corporate author, you may give the country under the laws of which it was incorporated. For the domicile of an organizational author, you may give the country of the principal place of business.

Anonymous Work

An author's contribution to a work is “anonymous” if that author is not identified on the copies or phonorecords of the work. If the contribution is anonymous, you may:

Note that if a work is “made for hire,” you must name the employer as author. In any case, you should check the anonymous box.

Pseudonymous Work

An author's contribution to a work is “pseudonymous” if that author is identified on the copies or phonorecords only under a fictitious name. If the contribution is pseudonymous, you may:

In either case, you should check the pseudonymous box and give the pseudonym in the space provided. (Note: If your work is a work make for hire, it is not necessary to check the pseudonymous box).

Author Created

Check the appropriate boxes to indicate this author's contribution to the work. The choices that appear correspond to the type of work you identified at the beginning. If you need to be more specific, use the space under “other.”

Literary Authorship


Visual Arts Authorship


Performing Arts Authorship

What do you want to register?

You should identify the authorship that you intend to register by checking one or more of the boxes in the field marked “Author Created.”

If these terms do not fully describe the authorship that you intend to register, you may provide a more specific description in the field marked “Other.” For example, if the author wrote the script for a stage play, you may write “Script” or “Play.”

Note: If you want to register a song and a particular recording of that song, read these instructions.

What is the difference between a song and a recording of that song?

A song and a particular recording of that song are separate works.  For example, the song “God Bless America” and a recording of Aretha Franklin singing “God Bless America” are two distinct works.  The song itself (i.e., the music and lyrics) is a “musical work.” A recording of that song performed by a particular artist is a “sound recording.”

Note:  If you want to change your initial Type of Work selection from “Work of the Performing Arts” to “Sound Recording” (or vice versa), you should discard this application and start over with a new application.

Can you register a song and a recording of that song with the same application?

A song and the sound recording of it may be registered on one application only if all the author(s) contributed to both works, or the copyright claimant owns all rights in both works through a written transfer of ownership.

If you want to register both the musical work and the sound recording (i.e., register the music and/or lyrics for a song and register a particular recording of that song), you must select “Sound Recording” on the Type of Work screen.  If you want to change your initial selection from “Work of the Performing Arts” to “Sound Recording,” you should discard this application and start over with a new application.

If the musical work and the sound recording were created by different author(s) or if the copyright in the musical work and the recording are owned by different parties, you must file two separate applications:  one application for the music and/or lyrics for the song (using the option for “Work of the Performing Arts”) and one application for the recording of the song (using the option for “Sound Recording”).


Sound Recordings Authorship

What is a sound recording?

A sound recording is a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds fixed in a tangible medium of expression, such as a digital audio file or a compact disc. A sound recording may include the performance authorship and/or the production authorship that is embodied in the recording.

Together, the performance and production are considered a single, integrated work.

What do you want to register?

You should identify the authorship that you intend to register by checking the appropriate box in the “Author Created” field.

To register only the performance / production authorship that the author contributed to this work, check the box marked “sound recording.”

To register the performance / production authorship and the underlying musical, dramatic, or literary work that is embodied in that recording, check the box marked “Sound Recording” and briefly describe the underlying work in the field marked “Other.”   For instance, state “lyrics and music” to describe a song, “script” to describe a dramatic work, or “text” to describe a literary work.

What is the difference between a song and a recording of that song?

A song and a particular recording of that song are separate works.  For example, the song “America the Beautiful” and a recording of Whitney Houston singing “America the Beautiful” are two distinct works.  The song itself (i.e., the music and lyrics) is a “musical work.” A recording of that song performed by a particular artist is a “sound recording.”

Note:  If you want to change your initial Type of Work selection from “Sound Recording” to “Work of the Performing Arts” (or vice versa), you should discard this application and start over with a new application.

Can you register a song and a recording of that song with the same application?

A song and the sound recording of it may be registered on one application only if all the author(s) contributed to both works, or the copyright claimant owns all rights in both works through a written transfer of ownership. 

If the musical work and the sound recording were created by different author(s) or if the copyright in the musical work and the recording are owned by different parties, you must file two separate applications:  one application for the music and/or lyrics for the song (using the option for “Work of the Performing Arts”) and one application for the recording of the song (using the option for “Sound Recording”).


Motion Pictures Authorship


Single Serial Issue Authorship

Author's Name

The author named on the application should be the person or organization responsible for the compilation of the serial issue and any individual contributions which were authored by the person or organization listed. If the contributions and/or compilation were works made for hire, the employer is considered the legal author of that compilation and/or those contributions that were prepared as works made for hire. In such a case, you should not list the individual employee for hire as an “author.”

For contributions that were not authored by the individual or organization listed, you may list each individual contributor separately as an author, give the title of each contribution in the “other” field on the author created screen and check the appropriate transfer statement on the claimant screen (e.g., By written agreement(s) with author(s) named on the application/certificate) OR  do not list the individual contributors and check the appropriate transfer statement on the claimant screen (e.g., By written agreement(s) with individual contributors not named on the application/certificate).

Author Created

The new author created options are: