[Federal Register: July 28, 1994]


Copyright Office

37 CFR Parts 201 and 211

[Docket No. 94-5]


AGENCY: Copyright Office, Library of Congress.

ACTION: Interim regulations with request for comments.


SUMMARY: The Copyright Office is adopting interim amendments concerning 
fees with a request for comments. These fee adjustments are limited to 
special services, and reflect the actual cost of providing the 
services. They include full-term storage of copyright deposits, special 
handling of copyright registrations, and other expedited services. The 
effect of these interim regulations is to increase or institute fees 
for special services as authorized under the Copyright Code.

DATES: Effective date: September 26, 1994.
    Written comments should be received before September 12, 1994.

ADDRESSES: Fifteen copies of written comments should be addressed, if 
sent by mail to: Eric Schwartz, Acting General Counsel, Copyright GC/
I&R, P.O. Box 70400, Southwest Station, Washington, DC 20024.
    If delivered by hand, copies should be brought to: Office of the 
General Counsel, Copyright Office, James Madison Memorial Building, 
Room 407, First and Independence Avenue SE., Washington, DC.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Eric Schwartz, Acting General Counsel, 
U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20540. 
Telephone: (202) 707-8380. Telefax (202) 707-8366.


I. Background

    Today we are issuing two separate but associated documents 
concerning fees for providing certain discretionary services to the 
public. This document contains interim regulations to increase or 
institute fees for special services authorized under the Copyright 
Code. Published elsewhere in today's Federal Register is an associated 
document dealing with proposals for fees to cover costs for providing 
and maintaining Deposit Accounts.

Copyright Office Funding

    The Copyright Office is funded annually by Congressional 
appropriation; however, the total appropriation includes a credit based 
on income from projected fees. We base this projection on an estimate 
of the fees we expect to receive over the course of the next fiscal 
year from services provided during that period. If revenue from fees 
falls short of our estimate, the total Congressional appropriation is 
decreased by the amount of the shortfall. In fiscal year 1993, our 
receipts failed to reach the projected level. Analysis of current fees 
indicates that the total received in fiscal year 1994 will again fall 
short of the projected amount.
    Not only has Congressional funding been reduced, but the fee income 
has also declined because the number of copyright registrations, and 
the consequential fees they generate, have not increased in recent 
years. There are several possible explanations for this shortfall, 
including an increase in group registrations and fewer renewal 
registrations resulting from legislation in 1992 making renewal 
registration optional.

Congressional Authorization

    Title 17 of the United States Code authorizes the Register of 
Copyrights to require payment of fees for services specifically 
described in section 708(a)(1)-(9). In addition, paragraph 708(a)(10) 
permits the Register to require ``for any other special services 
requiring a substantial amount of time or expense, such fees as the 
Register of Copyrights may fix on the basis of the cost of providing 
the service.'' The final sentence in 17 U.S.C. 708(a) provides that 
``[t]he Register of Copyrights is authorized to fix the fees for 
preparing copies of Copyright Office records, whether or not such 
copies are certified, on the basis of the cost of such preparation.'' 
Paragraph 708(d) further permits the Register to prescribe regulations 
for the refund of ``any sum paid by mistake or in excess of the fee 
required. . . .''

Actual Costs of Providing Special Services

    Before proposing these fee adjustments, we consulted the Library of 
Congress' financial managers and conducted a comprehensive economic 
analysis of the operating costs involved in providing special user 
services to ascertain the actual costs of providing these services. Our 
analysis concluded that the current fees charged for special services 
do not offset the costs of the services provided. Most of the fees for 
special services have not been adjusted in almost a decade. Special 
services entail high administrative costs because requests for these 
services disrupt the normal work flow, are labor intensive, and are 
moved ahead of regular requests. The analysis included an examination 
of all the discretionary fees set under authority of 17 U.S.C. 
708(a)(10). It identified the special services currently offered, and 
it calculated the cost of providing each service, taking into account 
staff time, overtime, and storage. In the past, the Office has chosen 
not to charge any fee for some services. Our analysis confirmed that we 
should adjust fees in order to justify the disruption to our normal 
work-flow and the high cost of these services, and to recapture actual 
cost; it also confirmed that we should impose charges for certain other 
administrative expenses.

Fees for Expedited Services

    Users who request expedited services need information or certified 
documents in order to meet extraordinary time deadlines, usually for 
business or litigation purposes. In these situations a user asks us to 
move his or her request ahead of the hundreds of pending requests; in 
most cases, if sufficient reason is given, we will comply. Compliance 
requires additional staff time or overtime to respond to the request in 
an expedited manner. It is appropriate to charge special service fees 
that reflect the actual costs of these services to avoid other users or 
the general public from having to subsidize these services. We are not 
proposing adjustments to the statutory fees set under Sec. 708(b) or 
seeking any legislative change in these fees. We will continue to 
provide regular searches, certifications, or copies of registration or 
recordation materials at the current fees.\1\

    \1\See Copyright Office Circular 4 for current schedule of fees.

II. Special Handling Fees

Special Handling Procedure

    Although the effective date of registration is the date the 
application, required fee, and deposit are received, it usually takes 
us several weeks to process a claim and mail the certificate of 
registration. Special handling is granted at the discretion of the 
Register in a limited number of cases as a special service to copyright 
applicants who have a compelling reason for the expedited issuance of a 
certificate of registration or recordation of a document pertaining to 
copyright. A request for special handling is granted only for claims 
involved in pending or prospective litigation, customs matters, or 
contract or publishing deadlines that necessitate expedited service. 
For many years, we used an informal procedure for special handling of 
applications. When we began providing this service, we noted that we 
could not continue to absorb the extra charges for providing such a 
service, but did not establish a fee for special handling until 1982 
when these procedures were formalized. 47 FR 19254 (May 4, 1982).

Work Involved in Special Handling

    Under normal work procedures, applications for registration or 
documents for recordation pass through various administrative and 
examining processing steps. Special handling requests disrupt the 
regular workflow procedure and require expedited handling outside the 
normal first-in, first-out basis. These claims require special handling 
at each step and routing between work stations that supersedes the 
normal, chronological processing. A separate system of controls must be 
maintained to assure that each claim moves expeditiously through each 
stage and that these claims can be quickly located. Special handling 
claims take staff away from processing all other claims, including 
those received earlier, in order to process them in a substantially 
shorter time period. Under regular procedures these same employees 
could more efficiently process many standard claims.

Multiple Applications

    Another special workflow problem for the Office arises from 
processing multiple applications accompanied by a single deposit when 
the request for special handling is limited to one claim or fewer than 
all of the multiple claims. Because all the applications share the 
deposit for the special handling claim, all claims must be processed in 
the same expedited manner. A $50 surcharge is currently applied to each 
additional claim attached to the deposit used for the special handling 
claim and processed at the same time. This surcharge will remain at 
$50, but it may be avoided by submitting a separate deposit.

Fees for Special Handling

    When a fee is charged for special handling, this fee is added to 
the regular fee for registration ($20.00) or recordation ($20.00 for a 
document listing no more than one title).
    In 1982 we set the special handling fee at $120. 47 FR 19254 (May 
4, 1982). In 1984 we raised the fee to $200 to reflect the actual cost 
of the service. 49 FR 39741 (Oct. 10, 1984). In 1985, we established 
the special handling procedures for import statements and documents. 50 
FR 46206 (Nov. 6, 1985). In 1991 we reviewed our special handling 
procedure, but did not increase fees. 56 FR 37528 (August 7, 1991).
    We have not adjusted special handling fees for almost ten years. 
Our analysis indicates that to recover actual costs the new fee should 
be $330. The conditions under which a request for special handling is 
approved will not change. We are also raising the fee for special 
handling of mask work claims, which have not changed since 1985, 50 FR 
26719 (June 28, 1985), as amended at 56 FR 59886 (Nov. 26, 1991), from 
$200 to $330.

III. Full-Term Storage

Service Provided

    The Copyright Code mandates storage for the full copyright term of 
copies or phonorecords of unpublished registered works. It does not 
specify how long we should retain deposits for published works. 
Retention is more important in the case of unpublished works because 
our copy or phonorecord may be the only one in existence. Our policy 
for published works is to retain deposit copies or phonorecords not 
selected by the Library for its collections for at least five years 
from the date of registration; if possible, we retain copies of visual 
arts works for at least ten years or longer. In addition, we offer 
optional full-term storage service for those who register published 
works and want to assure that the deposits will be retained in our 
custody for the full term of copyright.

Fees for Full-Term Storage

    Congress authorized a fee for full-term storage in 17 U.S.C. 
704(e). Our current charge for full-term storage of published copyright 
deposits is $135. 52 FR 28821 (Aug. 4, 1987). Our recent analysis of 
the costs of this service reveals that the actual cost is much higher. 
Our new regulations increase the charge to $270 for full-term storage 
of published deposits. We will continue to provide full-term storage of 
unpublished deposits without a fee.

IV. Expedited Certifications and Documents Services

Services Provided

    Users may request an additional certificate of registration, or 
copies of the copyright deposit, the copyright application, 
correspondence, and other copyright related documents. Frequently the 
requester needs these services on an expedited basis for compelling 
business or litigation reasons. The Certifications and Documents 
Section expedites these services when sufficient reason is provided.

Justification of Increase

    The fees for these expedited services were established after the 
revision of the Copyright Code in 1978 and have never been increased. 
Our new interim regulations increase the fees for expedited services 
performed by the Certifications & Documents Section to reflect actual 
costs and expenses. Actual costs for these services include the staff 
time necessary to travel to and search off-site storage facilities; in 
contrast, non-expedited requests are mailed to off-site division 
offices where regular staff can search for the requested material. All 
of these expedited service fees are surcharges that will be added to 
the regular charge for the service provided.

Expedited Additional Certificates

    The fee for providing an expedited additional certificate, 
performing a search for a document that is ``in-process'' (where the 
recordation process has not been completed), or certifying or 
furnishing a copy of a document has been $18 per hour for almost ten 
years. These new regulations will raise the rate to $50 per hour.

Copy of Deposit or File Under Copyright Office Control

    The fee for providing an expedited copy of a copyright deposit 
stored off-site in a Copyright Office storage facility, or for 
furnishing a copy of a correspondence file stored either on-site or 
off-site, has been $18 per hour. The new fee will be $70 for the first 
hour spent in providing the copy and $50 for each additional hour. The 
first hour is more costly because it reflects time expended by several 
staff members.

Copy of Deposit or File Not Under Our Control

    Expedited provision of a copy of a deposit or correspondence file 
stored off-site at a Federal Records Center, a more remote site not 
under the control of the Copyright Office, has also been $18 per hour. 
It is being increased to $135 for the first hour and $50 for each 
additional hour. This service costs more to provide because support 
services are more numerous and time-consuming and must also cover the 
cost of returning the deposit or correspondence file to the Federal 
Records Center.

V. Reference and Bibliographic Searches

Services Provided

    Copyright owners and users frequently need to get information on 
registrations, renewals, and transfers and other documents relating to 
copyright. Our records on these copyright related facts are public and 
are available for public inspection. A researcher can either come to 
the Office during regular business hours and perform a free search 
(with assistance from Copyright Office staff) or the researcher can 
have someone else perform the search. Several organizations provide 
such services for a fee. In addition, the post-1978 records of the 
Copyright Office (and the bibliographic records of the Library of 
Congress) are available on-line via the Internet.
    The Reference and Bibliography Section of the Copyright Office will 
perform an expedited search of these public records for a fee when 
there is a compelling reason to do so. The Reference and Bibliography 
Section regularly performs searches of Office records at the statutory 
rate of $20 for each hour or fraction of an hour consumed. Before 
January 3, 1991, that section performed approved expedited searches for 
the statutory $10 hourly fee plus an additional charge of $20 per hour 
for the expedited service with a two hour minimum charge (a $60 
minimum). Since then, the statutory fee has been $20 per hour, bringing 
the minimum to $80.00. Under the new fee schedule the charge for 
approved expedited searches is $100 for the first hour and $50 for each 
additional hour plus the $20 statutory fee for each hour.
    The public can conduct searches on the Copyright Office in-process 
systems (COINS) database through a public access terminal in the 
Records Maintenance Unit for the search fee of $20 per hour or fraction 
of an hour. This fee will remain unchanged.

VI. Copying Fees

    We will continue to duplicate our records under the conditions 
detailed in the applicable regulatory provisions and offer use of 
photocopy equipment and microfilm printers for the public's use at the 
prevailing rates established by the Photoduplication Service of the 
Library of Congress, except for certain specialized services for which 
the rates are based on our operational costs (e.g. color photocopying). 
Additional charges for specialized copying, for example audio cassette 
copying charges, are fixed by other divisions of the Library providing 
these services. All of these fees may be adjusted periodically.

VII. Policy Decision on Refund of Excess Fees

Automatic Refund Level

    Our practice until 1991 was automatically to refund excess fees of 
more than $5.00; amounts of $5.00 or less were not refunded unless 
specifically requested. In 1991 we changed the automatic refund policy 
to provide automatic refund for payments of $10.01 or more in excess of 
the statutory fee; 56 FR 7812 (Feb. 26, 1991). 37 CFR 201.6(c). We are 
now adjusting the level at which automatic refunds of overpayments will 
be made from $10.01 to $50.01; we will not refund amounts of $50 or 
less unless specifically requested.

VIII. Administrative Processing Fee for Nonregistration Services

    In 1991, we determined that an administrative processing fee is 
authorized under section 708(a) of the Copyright Code to reflect the 
minimum administrative cost of responding to a request for a 
nonregistrative service, even if the service cannot be successfully 
completed. For example, a request is made for a certification of 
records and after a search by our staff, the file cannot be found. We 
need to charge an administrative fee for the search even though it is 
unsuccessful. Accordingly in 1991, we amended 37 CFR 201.6(c) to state 
that in making any refund of fees remitted for nonregistration 
services, we could first deduct our administrative cost. Our regulation 
permits us to charge a processing fee ``in an amount equivalent to one 
hour of the requested service, or the minimum fee set by statute for 
the service.'' 37 CFR 201.6(c). We will not make any change to this 

List of Subjects

37 CFR Part 201

    Copyright, Fees.

37 CFR Part 211

    Computer technology, Fees, Master work protection, Science and 
technology, Semi-conductor chip products.

Interim Rules

    In consideration of the foregoing, parts 201 and 211 of 37 CFR 
chapter II are amended as follows.


    1. The authority citation for part 201 is revised to read as 

    Authority: 17 U.S.C. 702, 708.

Sec. 201.6  [Amended]

    2. In Sec. 201.6, paragraph (c) remove the fee of ``$10,'' and add 
in its place ``$50''.
    3. Section 201.32 is added to read as follows:

Sec. 201.32  Fees for Copyright Office special services.

    The Copyright Office has established the following fees for the 
special services indicated:

       Special services                           Fees                  
1. Special handling fee.......  $330.                                   
2. Full-term storage fee......  270.                                    
3. Surcharge for expedited                                              
 Certifications and Documents                                           
 Section services (per hour)                                            
    a. Additional certificates  50.                                     
    b. In-process searches....  50.                                     
    c. Copy of assignment.....  50.                                     
    d. Certification..........  50.                                     
    e. Copy of deposit (stored  70 (first hour).                        
     off-site).                 50 (each additional hour).              
    f. Copy of correspondence   70 (first hour).                        
     file (stored in Madison    50 (each additional hour).              
     Building) or at an off-                                            
     site storage facility.                                             
    g. Copy of deposit or       135 (first hour).                       
     correspondence file        50 (each additional hour).              
     (stored at Federal                                                 
     Records Center).                                                   
4. Surcharge for expedited                                              
 Reference and Bibliography                                             
    a. First hour.............  100.                                    
    b. Each additional hour...  50.                                     


    1. The authority citation for part 211 continues to read as 

    Authority: 17 U.S.C. 908.

Sec. 211.3  [Amended]

    2. In Sec. 211.3, paragraph (a)(7) remove the fee of ``$200,'' and 
add in its place ``$330''.

    Dated: July 19, 1994.
Barbara Ringer,
Acting Register of Copyrights.
James H. Billington,
Librarian of Congress.
[FR Doc. 94-18306 Filed 7-27-94; 8:45 am]