The Copyright Office amends its regulations through rulemakings. These proceedings often involve solicitation of comments from interested parties, roundtable discussions, reply comments, and hearings. Listed below are rulemakings that include such public input. In many cases, public comments, reply comments, and hearing transcripts are provided within the webpages listed below.
- Changes to Recordation Practices
While the Office continues to develop a strategy for modernizing and improving recordation services via a comprehensive reengineering, it recognizes that there could be immediate benefits if certain process changes were made in the interim. To this end, it is proposing a new rule intended to reduce the amount of time required to process certain types of documents and help to alleviate remitter concerns regarding the receipt of documents for recordation.
The proposed rule would amend the regulations to encourage remitters to include a cover sheet with the documents they submit to the Office; allow remitters to submit long title lists in electronic format; and provide remitters with the option to request return receipts that acknowledge that the Office has received a submission.
The Office invites public comment on the proposed rule. The Office will consider the comments in finalizing the new rule.
Notice of proposed rulemaking, 78 FR 41470
- Section 115 License Statement of Account Rulemaking
- Cable and Satellite Statements of Account
On July 27, 2012, the Copyright Office published a notice of proposed rulemaking and request for comments concerning amendments to the regulations for reporting Monthly and Annual Statements of Account for the making and distribution of phonorecords under the compulsory license, 17 U.S.C. 115, to bring the regulations up to date to accommodate recent rate determinations by the Copyright Royalty Judges, which among other things provide new rates for limited downloads, interactive streaming and incidental digital phonorecord deliveries, and to harmonize these reporting requirements with the existing regulations for reporting the making and distribution of physical phonorecords, permanent downloads and ringtones. The most recent notice requested additional comments that would be due no later than January 30, 2014 and that reply comments would be due February 14, 2014.
For the record of this rulemaking see, Section 115 License Statement of Account Rulemaking
The Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010 ("STELA"), Pub. Law 111-175, directed the Register of Copyrights to develop a new procedure to allow copyright owners to audit the Statements of Account ("SOAs") that cable operators and satellite carriers file with the U.S. Copyright Office. The Office issued two notices of proposed rulemaking that set forth its proposal for this procedure. The Office received extensive comments from groups representing copyright owners, cable operators, and individual companies that use the statutory licenses. The Office is reviewing these comments and in the near future intends to issue a final rule addressing STELA audit procedures in general.
Notice of proposed rulemaking, 78 FR 27137
- Copyright Office Fees
The Copyright Office is proposing the adoption of new fees for the registration of claims, recordation of documents, special services, Licensing Division services, and FOIA requests. In setting fees, the Office is aware of its responsibility, like other Federal agencies, to establish sound financial policies and develop a budget derived largely from fees. It is also mindful of its responsibilities to authors and other copyright owners to price services at a level that encourages participation in the registration and recordation process not only for their own benefit, but also for the benefit of licensees and other users of works of authorship as well as the public at large. With these objectives in mind, the Office has proposed fees set to recover a significant part of the costs to the Office for services that benefit both copyright owners and the public. It is also inviting comment from the public on the proposed fee schedule as part of this process.
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 77 FR 18742
Additional information on the new filing fees authorized under the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010 (STELA)
- Designation of Online Service Provider Agent
The Copyright Office is proposing to amend its regulations and practices governing the designation by online service providers of agents to receive notifications of claimed copyright infringement as provided for in section 512 of the Copyright Act. The Office intends to implement an electronic process by which service providers may designate agents to receive notifications of claimed infringement and an electronic database of designated agents of online service providers. In order to create the online database and to update the information currently maintained by the Copyright Office, it is proposed that all online service providers must file new designations of agents within one year after new regulations go into effect, and that thereafter all online service providers must update and/or verify the accuracy of their information in the database at least once every two years.
Designation of Online Service Provider Agent (Sept 2011— )
- Discontinuance of Form CO in Registration Practices
The Copyright Office is proposing to amend its regulations to: (1) discontinue use of the Form CO application as an option for applying for copyright registrations; and (2) remove the references to CON 1 and CON 2 sheets. Form CO applications comprise only a small percentage of all applications submitted but contain a significant number of errors, thus requiring a disproportionate amount of the Office’s time, effort and resources to process. The proposed amendments would remove references to Form CO and would instead allow applicants a choice to file an application for registration using either the Copyright Office’s electronic filing system for certain works or the specific forms that relate to the subject matter of the application. Additionally, the proposed amendment would remove the references to CON 1 and CON 2 sheets, which were never prepared or made available to the public, and would instead refer only to the continuation sheets currently available for applicants filing paper applications.
Discontinuance of Form CO in Registration Practices (Sept 2011— )
- Exemption to Prohibition on Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems for Access Control Technologies
The Copyright Office is conducting this rulemaking proceeding mandated by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which provides that the Librarian of Congress may designate certain classes of works as exempt from the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works when such circumvention is done to engage in noninfringing uses of works in the designated classes. The designations will remain in place for a period of three years.
Current Rulemaking (Sept 2011— )
- Automated Databases Consisting Predominantly of Photographs
The Copyright Office is proposing to amend its regulations, including the recently published interim regulations regarding electronic registration of automated databases that consist predominantly of photographs and group registration of published photographs (the ''Interim Regulations''), governing the deposit requirements for applications for automated databases that consist predominantly of photographs. The proposed amendments would require that, in addition to providing material relating to claimed compilation authorship, the deposits for such databases include the image of each photograph in which copyright is claimed. The Office believes that this amendment will align the deposit requirements for such databases with the deposit requirements for published or unpublished photographs as a single work or group registration of published photographs and provide a better public record identifying the scope of the copyright claim.
- Refunds Under the Cable Statutory License
The Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act of 2010 (“STELA”), Pub. L. No 111-175, amended Section 111 of the Copyright Act to allow a cable system to calculate its royalty payments on a community-by-community basis, rather than on a system-wide basis. STELA also eliminated the possibility of an infringement action against those cable systems that historically did not pay for carriage of “phantom signals,” and it clarified that cable systems that had paid for carriage of these signals were not entitled to a refund or offset for those payments. The legislation, however, did not address whether a cable system was entitled to a refund for non-phantom related reporting errors in the case where the cable system has an outstanding balance owed for the carriage of such signals for an accounting period prior to 2010. The Copyright Office seeks comment on whether a cable operator may receive refunds in situations where it has failed to pay for the carriage of distant signals on a system-wide basis under the Copyright Act before STELA amended the Act.
- Possible Gap in Termination Provisions
The Copyright Office is proposing to amend its regulations governing notices of termination of certain grants of transfers and licenses of copyright under section 203 of the Copyright Act of 1976. The amendments are intended to clarify the recordation practices of the Copyright Office regarding the content of section 203 notices of termination and the timeliness of their service and recordation, including a clarification that the Office will accept for recordation under section 203 a notice of termination of a grant agreed to before January 1, 1978, as long as the work that is the subject of the grant was not created before 1978. Whether such notices of termination fall within the scope of section 203 will ultimately be a matter to be resolved by the courts.
Possible Gap in Termination Provisions
- Mandatory Deposit of Published Electronic Works Available Only Online
The Copyright Office of the Library of Congress is proposing to amend its regulations governing mandatory deposit of electronic works published in the United States and available only online.
The amendments would establish that such works are exempt from mandatory deposit until a demand for deposit of copies or phonorecords of such works is issued by the Copyright Office. They would also set forth the process for issuing and responding to a demand for deposit, amend the definition of a ‘‘complete copy’’ of a work for purposes of mandatory deposit of online–only works, and establish new best edition criteria for electronic serials available only online. The Copyright Office seeks public comment on these proposed revisions.
Mandatory Deposit of Published Electronic Works Available Only Online
- Minimum Balance Requirement and Automatic Replenishment Option for Deposit Account Holders
The Copyright Office is proposing to amend its regulations to set the minimum level of activity required to hold a deposit account at 12 transactions per year; require deposit account holders to maintain a minimum balance in that account; mandate the closure of a deposit account the second time it is overdrawn; and offer deposit account holders the option of automatic replenishment of their account via their bank account or credit card.
Minimum Balance Requirement and Automatic Replenishment Option for Deposit Account Holders
- Cable Reporting Practices
The Copyright Office is seeking comment on proposed rules governing the royalty reporting practices of cable operators and concomitant revisions to the Statements of Account filed pursuant to Section 201.17 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
Cable Reporting Practices
- Definition of a Cable System: Phantom Signals
The Copyright Office initiated a proceeding to examine the “phantom signal” phenomenon. This matter arises under, and is tied to, the definition of the term “cable system” in Section 111 of the Copyright Act and the Copyright Office's implementing rules.
- Section 109 Study on the Cable and Satellite Statutory Licenses under the Copyright Act
Section 109 of the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act (SHVERA) of 2004, requires the Register of Copyrights to prepare a report for Congress regarding the operation and revision of the Sections 111, 119, and 122 statutory licenses under the Copyright Act, including her findings and recommendations.
- Rulemaking on Exemptions from Prohibition on Circumvention of Technological Measures that Control Access to Copyrighted Works
The Copyright Office conducted this rulemaking proceeding mandated by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which provides that the Librarian of Congress may exempt certain classes of works from the prohibition against circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works.
- Retransmission of Digital Broadcast Signals Pursuant to the Cable Statutory License
- Technical and Digital Phonorecords Delivery Compulsory License
Section 115 of the Copyright Act provides a statutory license for the making and distribution of phonorecords of nondramatic musical works, which includes the right to distribute a phonorecord by means of a ‘‘digital phonorecord delivery’’ (‘‘DPD’’). The statute includes a definition of a DPD, and acknowledges the existence of additional DPDs ‘‘where the reproduction or distribution of the phonorecord is incidental to the transmission which constitutes the [DPD]’’. However, the law does not identify which DPDs can be classified as incidental or provide guidelines for making this decision.
The Copyright Office initiated a proceeding to address several issues associated with the secondary retransmission of digital television broadcast signals by cable operators under Section 111 of the Copyright Act.
In addition to issues regarding the scope of the 115 license, the Office continues to explore ways in which the service of Notice of Intention to Obtain Compulsory License under section 115 may be further streamlined.