Copyright Modernization


What is Copyright Office Modernization?


Copyright Office modernization is the initiative to reimagine the entire Office by (1) building a new enterprise IT system designed to be more flexible and easy for users to use, (2) modernizing supporting IT systems, and (3) further ensuring that Office practices and processes are efficient and productive.


Enterprise Copyright System


One of modernization’s key goals is to develop a new enterprise IT system that integrates and improves all of the Office’s technology systems, which we are calling the Enterprise Copyright System (ECS). Specifically, the ECS will include the Office’s registration, recordation, public record, and licensing IT systems, among other functions.


The ECS design system will be shared across all applications, giving users a consistent and optimal interface. Additionally, the ECS will include shared platform services, which are central sets of capabilities that support multiple business services (for example, using the same email, payment, authentication, and event systems).


The Office is focused on making sure that the ECS is easy for users to navigate. A user-centered and flexible design, which takes into account streamlined business processes and policies, will provide better access to the Office’s main services.

The Office will create a user-centric, flexible, and modern application to replace the existing registration system. This will include developing both the public-facing functions and the internal Office examination review and correspondence functions. Doing this work expands and improves our services, reduces errors and the need for correspondence, and improves the internal user experience across all Office business units. We anticipate that the registration application development will follow this timeline:

  • Fall 2017—begin user outreach for registration claimants.
  • Summer 2019—begin user outreach for examiners, supervisors, and managers.
  • Fall 2019—begin foundational development of a limited application.
  • 2020—begin development of the reimagined Standard Application question flow:
    • Fall 2020—begin user testing of registration prototype.
    • Winter 2020/21—registration public prototype release 1.
    • Spring 2021—registration public prototype release 2.
  • 2021—continue iterative development to support the Standard Application and internal system development. Begin prototype development for supplemental registration and preregistration.

The Office will replace the current paper-based, manual recordation services with an automated system that enables web-based submissions and creates an updated workspace for Office staff to review and validate submissions while using a modular design to enable efficient growth, development, and integration of other ECS applications. We anticipate that recordation modernization will follow this timeline:

  • Initial pilot released to the public spring 2020.
    • Selected external users review and assess the recordation pilot system.
    • Modular design integrates other ECS enterprise solution modules.
    • Limited functionality to test new ideas and concepts.
  • User feedback incorporated into subsequent pilot releases that will expand functionality.

The Office will replace the existing System of Public Records with a significantly enhanced new portal. The new portal will provide access to more copyright records for both registration and recordation data, enhanced search capabilities, and interfaces for internal and external use. Over time, the Public Records development activities will integrate historical copyright public records into a modernized interface and will use the following timeline:

  • Spring 2018—launch Virtual Card Catalog (VCC) proof of concept release 1.
  • Summer 2018—launch VCC proof of concept release 2, enhancing search functionality.
  • Spring 2019—launch VCC proof of concept release 3, adding more than 24 million card images to complete online card collection.
  • Fall 2019—begin digitization of historical record books to allow online access.
  • Fall 2019—begin development of a new Copyright Public Record Pilot to replace the existing online system.
  • Fall 2020—launch Copyright Public Record Pilot, allowing users to review and assess the system.

The Office is reviewing current licensing processes and assessing whether the Office should make changes and develop new business requirements for an improved system. Planned work includes automating internal workflow and integrating financial processes with the Library’s financial management system. Potential work may include improvements to forms and submission methods. This process will use the following timeline:

  • Fall 2020—begin development of user experience design and initial automated workflow.

Modernizing Supporting IT Systems

The ECS is just one part, albeit a large one, of the Office’s modernization efforts. The Office is also modernizing additional IT services, such as developing a business intelligence tool, updating public information capabilities, and improving tracking of physical materials.

Business intelligence is a capability that allows the Office to see, manipulate, and exploit the data that systems are generating. The Office will build a robust business intelligence (BI) tool that will aid in analyzing Office functions. Use of the BI tool will improve Copyright Office decision-making and service through analysis from a common, trusted data repository.

The Office’s Public Information Office (PIO) provides support to the public, answering public inquiries on copyright and Office services. Modernization activities will include updating the tools that PIO uses, for example, updating tools to improve analytics and streamline responses. Specifically, updating PIO technologies will include using a high-performing and high-quality, multi-channel customer contact center solution to support the copyright community and improve communications between Office staff and the public.

As the Office transitions to a new storage facility in 2021, it will implement a warehouse management system that optimizes warehouse operations and functionality, promoting timely and reliable services.

Non-IT Office Modernization


Modernization also involves updates to Office processes, organization, and culture.

The Office will integrate and improve its business processes, resulting in public services that are more user-friendly, flexible, and better able to accommodate future growth. This will include reviewing current business processes and staff responsibilities and recommending new methods and processes to reduce operational costs and improve business efficiencies via business process reengineering. This effort will be continuous throughout the ECS development process and will involve developing requirements for automated workflows and processes as needed and analyzing how these workflows interact with one another across divisions.

With all the various modernization work streams, it is important that the Office find ways to optimize its organizational structure and align personnel resources to the emerging needs that result from implementing the ECS and revised processes. To consider the organization and people aspects of modernization, the Office engaged the Office of Personnel Management’s Human Resources Solutions to perform an organizational analysis, workload assessment, and an associated position classification review.

Change management is a strategic goal of the Copyright Office, and organizational change management (OCM) provides us with tools to adapt to change. The OCM initiative at the Office involves the development of key change management processes and documents, staff training on change management practices, and strategic coaching on structuring and leading a complex business transformation. Staff training is underway to build an internal capability that supports continuous improvement in using OCM tools.