U.S. Copyright Office
Library of Congress
Freedom of Information Act Report 2000

U.S. Copyright Office
Freedom of Information Act, Annual Report
Fiscal Year 2000

I. Basic Information

A. Direct Questions About this Report to:

Peter Vankevich, Supervisory Copyright Information Specialist
United States Copyright Office
P.O. Box 70400
Washington, DC 20024

Telephone: (202) 707-0600
FAX: (202) 707-6859

B. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Annual Report may be obtained over the Internet at


C. The FOIA Annual Report may also be obtained by making a request to the address listed in part I.A. above

II. How To Make A Request Under the Freedom of Information Act

A. This information is available on the Copyright Office's website listed in part I.B. above, as well as at 37 C.F.R. 203.4. Individuals desiring to obtain access to Copyright Office information under the Freedom of Information Act must should make a written request to that effect either by mail to the Supervisory Copyright Information Specialist at the address listed above, or in person between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., EST, on any working day except legal holidays at Room LM-401, The James Madison Memorial Building, 1st and Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington, DC. The request should be plainly marked Freedom of Information Act Request. Records must be reasonably described for identification of any such existing records by the Copyright Office.

B. Agency response time to requests made in Fiscal Year 2000

The average time taken for response to requests in FY 2000 was 8 working days. Twenty working days is the maximum allowed by law, with extensions possible under exceptional circumstances. During FY 2000 there were two appeals. The FOIA officer's denials were upheld by the Copyright Office's General Counsel.

C. Brief description of why some requests are not granted by the Copyright Office:

Occasionally, a denial is made under one of the FOIA exemptions, e.g., requests for personnel information, or requests for financial information. In other cases requests address functions that are overseen by the Library of Congress, the Copyright Office's parent organization. These requests are forwarded to the Library of Congress' Office Systems Services Section for response. The Library is not subject to FOIA requests, because it is part of the legislative branch of the government; however under 17 U.S.C. 701(e), the Copyright Office is, for the most part, subject to the terms of the Administrative Procedure Act, which includes the FOIA.

Predominantly, “denials” are not denials under exemptions listed in title 5, section 552. Rather, the appropriate response from the Copyright Office is to provide information which, by statute, must be made available to the public, about obtaining the status of a work or accessing or copying registered works. See Chapter 7, title 17, United States Code; 37 C.F.R. 201.2. In these cases, information is provided concerning services such as searching registration records and obtaining copies of documents regarding certain topics.

III. Definitions of Terms and Acronyms Used in the Report

A. Agency-specific acronyms or other terms

None used in this report.

B. Basic terms

1. FY 2000 — fiscal year 2000, which ran from October 1, 1999, through September 30, 2000.

2. FOIA — Freedom of Information Act, as amended by the Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendment of 1996.

3. FOIA request — a request made under the Freedom of Information Act is to be made to request information from government agencies to make certain agency information available for public inspection and copying, and to allow public access agency records, subject to statutory exemptions.

4. Initial request — a request to the agency for access to records that may be seen and/or copied under the FOIA.

5. Appeal — a request to the agency asking that it review at a higher administrative level (in the Copyright Office, appeals are handled by the General Counsel) a full or partial denial of access to records under the FOIA, or any other FOIA determination such as a fee waiver or assessment.

6. Processed request or appeal — a request or appeal to which the agency has responded.

7. Grant — agency decision to disclose all records which may be properly requested under the FOIA in response to a FOIA request.

8. Partial grant — agency decision to disclose appropriate records, although not all records requested, in response to a FOIA request, deleting information determined to be exempt under one or more of the FOIA's exemptions; or a decision to disclose some records in their entireties, but to withhold others in whole or in part.

9. Denial — agency decision not to release part of or an entire record in response to a FOIA request because the agency determines that all the information in the requested records is exempt under one or more of the FOIA exemptions, or, for a procedural reason, such as no such record is retained by the agency.

10. Time limits — the time period in the FOIA for an agency to respond, 20 working days from proper receipt by a FOIA officer of a FOIA request, unless exceptional circumstances exist. If exceptional circumstances exist, the agency still must respond to that effect within 20 working days.

11. Median number — the middle, not average, number. For example, of 3, 7, and 14, the median number is 7.

12. Average number — the number obtained by dividing the sum of a group of numbers by the quantity of numbers in the group. For example of 3, 7, and 14, the average number is 8.

13. “Perfected request” - a FOIA request for records which adequately describes the records sought, which has been received by the FOIA office of the agency or agency in possession of the records, and for which there is no remaining question about the payment of applicable fees.

14. Exemption 3 statute — a separate federal statute prohibiting the disclosure of a certain type of information and authorizing its withholding under subsection (b)(3) of the FOIA.

IV. Exemption 3 Statutes

An exemption 3 statute is a separate federal statute prohibiting the disclosure of a certain type of information and authorizing its withholding under subsection (b)(3) of the FOIA.

A. List of exemption statutes the agency could have cited in FY 2000 to deny access to information

Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. 552a: social security number, home address, personnel records, tax information, account information, credit reports.

B. Example of whether a court has upheld the use of the statute used to prohibit disclosure of a certain type of information:

Provenzano v. United States Dept. of Justice, 717 F.2d 799 (3d Cir. 1983), cert. granted, 466 U.S. 926 (1984) (now moot since Congress enacted the Central Intelligence Agency Information Act in 1984). This Office did not rely on Provenzano to process requests it received under the FOIA in FY 2000.

17 U.S.C. 701(e): “Except as provided by section 706(b) and the regulations issued thereunder, all actions taken by the Register of Copyrights under this title are subject to the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act of June 11, 1946, as amended...” Section 706(b) provides that “Copies or reproductions of deposited articles retained under the control of the Copyright Office shall be authorized or furnished only under the conditions specified by the Copyright Office regulations.”

V. Initial FOIA/Privacy Act Access Requests

A. Number of initial requests

1. Number of requests pending as of end of preceding fiscal year (FY 1999): 0

2. Number of requests received during FY 2000: 56

3. Number of requests processed during FY 2000: 56

4. Number of requests pending as of end of FY 2000: 0

B. Disposition of initial requests

1. Number of total grants: 6

2. Number of partial grants: 1

3. Number of denials: 9

(a). Number of times each FOIA exemption used (counting one exemption once per request)

1) Exemption 1: 0

2) Exemption 2: 0

3) Exemption 3: 10

4) Exemption 4: 0

5) Exemption 5: 0

6) Exemption 6: 0

7) Exemption 7: 0

8) Exemption 8: 0

9) Exemption 9: 0

4. Other reasons for nondisclosure (total): 40

a. No records: 15

b. Referrals: 14 (requests referred to Library of Congress divisions for response)

c. Request withdrawn: 1

d. Fee-related reason: 0

e. Records not reasonably described: 2

f. Not a proper FOIA request for some other reason: 2 (requested routine form-Litigation Statement)

g. Duplicate request: 0

h. Other: 6

VI. Appeals of Initial Denials of FOIA/PA Requests

1. Number of appeals: 2

a. Number of appeals received during FY 2000: 2

b. Number of appeals processed during FY 2000: 2

2. Disposition of appeals

a. Number completely upheld: 2

b. Number partially reversed: 0

c. Number completely reversed: 0

d. Number of times each FOIA exemption used (counting each exemption once per appeal)

1) Exemption 1: 0

2) Exemption 2: 0

3) Exemption 3: 2

4) Exemption 4: 0

5) Exemption 5: 0

6) Exemption 6: 0

7) Exemption 7: 0

8) Exemption 8: 0

9) Exemption 9: 0

3. Other reasons for nondisclosure (total)

b. No records: 0

c. Referrals: 0

d. Appeal withdrawn: 0

e. Fee-related reason: 0

f. Records not reasonably described: 0

g. Not a proper FOIA appeal for some other reason: 0

g. Does not concern agency records: 0

h. Duplicate appeal: 0

i. Other: 0

VII. Compliance With Time Limits/Status of Pending Requests

A. Median processing time for requests processed during FY 2000

1. Simple requests (if multiple tracks used)

a. Number of requests processed: N/A (multiple tracks not used)

b. Median number of days to process: N/A (multiple tracks not used)

2. Complex requests (specify for tracks used)

a. Number of requests processed: 56

b. Median number of days to process: 8

3. Requests accorded expedited processing.

a. Number of requests processed: 0

b. Median number of days to process: N/A

B. Status of pending requests

1. Number of requests pending at end of FY 2000: 0

2. Median number of days that such requests were pending at that date: 0

VIII. Comparisons with previous year(s) (optional)

IX. Costs/FOIA Staffing

A. Staffing levels

1. Number of full-time FOIA personnel: 0

2. Number of personnel with part-time or occasional FOIA duties: 3

3. Total number of personnel (in work years): 0.65

B. Total costs (including staff and all resources)

1. FOIA processing, paperwork, reply activity: approximately $7,000

2. Litigation-related activities: 0

3. Total costs: approximately $7,000

C. Statement of additional resources needed for FOIA compliance

The Copyright Office continues to monitor the volume of FOIA requests it receives under the FOIA, and the staff time spent to respond to the requests. This Office operates in the spirit of open government and accessibility to information. Many of the requests this Office receives are not, in fact, for material that must be accessed by invoking the FOIA; the material requested can be provided by the Office by use of its public information and reference facilities as well as by access to registration and recordation information via Internet. This is an office of record regarding copyright registrations, as well as transfers and assignments of copyright ownership. Information about the federal copyright law is also available here. Rarely is there the need to file a FOIA request to receive information from the Copyright Office.

X. Fees

A. Total fees collected by agency for processing FOIA requests in FY 2000: 0

B. Percentage of total costs: 0

XI. FOIA Regulations

FOIA regulations regarding the Copyright Office, Library of Congress, can be found at 37 C.F.R. 203. Privacy Act regulations can be found at 37 C.F.R. 204.