Operations Updates During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Register has declared that, effective at the end of the day on December 31, 2021, the existing timing adjustments promulgated under the CARES Act as a result of disruptions to the copyright system caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will be discontinued. The current adjustments will remain in effect through that date and will not be extended further. The sections below describe the requirements for ensuring timely delivery of the applicable materials.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Copyright Office and other Library of Congress buildings are closed to the public. The Copyright Office remains open online for registering works, searching copyright-related records, learning about copyright topics, and obtaining other services. We are receiving deliveries via U.S. Postal Service mail and commercial delivery services such as UPS, FedEx, and DHS, but we are unable to accept deliveries by personal courier at this time. You may contact the Records Research and Certification Section via email for search assistance, records certification, and other services, although there may be processing delays. If you have any questions about which services are available, or for any other assistance, you can reach our Public Information Office through our online form or by phone at (202) 707-3000 or 1-877-476-0778 (toll-free).
To keep up to date on Copyright Office operations during the pandemic, sign up for our NewsNet service or check this page, which we will update as needed. For more information about COVID-19 generally, please visit Coronavirus.gov, CDC.gov/coronavirus, and USA.gov/coronavirus.
Specific information about how the pandemic is impacting Copyright Office services is in the drop-down menus below. Our most frequently requested information is also available in the Important Links box.
Adjustments to Copyright Act Timing Provisions for Persons Affected by COVID-19
On March 27, 2020, the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which added section 710 to the Copyright Act. Section 710 authorizes the Register of Copyrights, on a temporary basis and subject to certain exceptions, to “toll, waive, adjust, or modify any timing provision . . . or procedural provision” in the Copyright Act if she determines that a national emergency declared by the President “generally disrupts or suspends the ordinary functioning of the copyright system . . . or any component thereof.” In exercising this authority, the Register “shall consider the scope and severity of the particular national emergency, and its specific effect with respect to the particular provision, and shall tailor any remedy accordingly.”
On March 13, 2020, the President declared that the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States constitutes a national emergency, beginning March 1, 2020. On February 24, 2021, the President continued the emergency declaration. For the reasons explained below, the Register finds that this emergency has generally disrupted the ordinary functioning of the copyright system with respect to the ability of certain persons to comply with statutory or regulatory filing and/or service requirements in a timely manner. Therefore, the Register is exercising her authority under section 710 to adjust the applicable timing provisions in specific cases where compliance would have been possible but for the national emergency. On March 31, 2020, the Copyright Office announced adjustments to timing provisions related to certain registration claims and notices of termination for persons affected by COVID-19. On April 6, 2020, the Copyright Office announced an adjustment to timing provisions related to the paper-based provision of section 115 notices of intention and statements of account by entities impacted by COVID-19. On June 10, 2021, the Office announced two further adjustments relating to registration applications submitted with insufficient fees, and the filing of schedules of pre-1972 sound recordings. Each of these adjustments is described below.
To allow for review of the evolving responses to the COVID-19 emergency, the Copyright Office has implemented these emergency modifications in sixty-day increments. At the end of each sixty-day period following the date of the Presidential declaration, the Register has determined whether the disruptions to the copyright system caused by the ongoing national emergency remain in effect and whether the modifications should continue in force. The modifications previously were extended in May, July, September, and November 2020, and in January, March, May, July, and September 2021. Pursuant to section 710(c), the Office has notified Congress that these provisions have been modified for a cumulative total of longer than 120 days.
On November 5, 2021, the Register determined that, in light of the continuing disruptions to the copyright system, the timing adjustments described below pertaining to registration claims and notices of termination should be extended through December 31, 2021. As explained further below, the Register previously determined that the adjustments pertaining to section 115 are no longer needed at this time; they accordingly were effective only through January 8, 2021.
In addition, on July 6, 2020, following a request from the Copyright Royalty Board, the Acting Register determined that the ongoing disruptions to the copyright system may affect the Board’s ability to meet its statutory deadline for issuing an initial determination in the Web V proceeding regarding digital performance of sound recordings and the making of ephemeral copies to facilitate performances and extended the time for issuing that determination by up to 120 days. On March 29, 2021, following a subsequent request from the Board, the Register determined that a further sixty-day extension was appropriate in light of additional unanticipated COVID-related impacts.
The Register has declared that, effective at the end of the day on December 31, 2021, the existing timing adjustments promulgated under the CARES Act as a result of disruptions to the copyright system caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will be discontinued. The current adjustments will remain in effect through that date and will not be extended further. The sections below describe the requirements for ensuring timely delivery of the applicable materials.
Registration Timing Requirements for Certain Statutory Remedies
Under section 412 of the Copyright Act, a copyright owner generally is eligible to be awarded statutory damages in an infringement action only if the work is registered prior to the infringement or within three months of the work’s first publication. The effective date of registration is the date when the Copyright Office receives the application, deposit, and fee.
In response to the national emergency, federal, state, and local governments have issued guidelines recommending against discretionary travel, and a number of states and localities have ordered the closure of nonessential businesses. As a result, the Copyright Office has become aware that some copyright owners of published works may be prevented from completing and submitting copyright applications in a timely manner due to lack of access to physical documents, including deposit copies of copyrighted works, or the inability to deliver materials to a mail carrier.
To mitigate the effect of this disruption, the Register is temporarily adjusting the application of the timing provisions of section 412 to affected persons. These adjustments will follow a tiered approach:
- For copyright applications that can be submitted entirely in electronic form (i.e., those that do not require submission of a physical deposit), the timing provisions are unchanged.
- If an applicant can submit an application electronically but is unable to submit a required physical deposit, the applicant should upload, together with the application, a declaration or similar statement certifying, under penalty of perjury, that the applicant is unable to submit the physical deposit and would have done so but for the national emergency and setting forth satisfactory evidence in support. Applicants may use this declaration form. If this requirement is met, and the three-month window for registration after the date of first publication was open as of March 13, 2020, or opened after that date, the window will be extended such that the applicant will be eligible for the remedies under section 412, provided that the applicant submits the required deposit within thirty days after the date the disruption has ended, as stated in a public announcement by the Register. Note that the timing adjustments under the CARES Act expired on December 31, 2021. Therefore, applicants must submit any deposits on or before January 30, 2022, to qualify for this adjustment. Examples of satisfactory evidence include, but are not limited to:
- a statement that the applicant is subject to a stay-at-home order issued by a state or local government; or
- a statement that the applicant is unable to access required physical materials due to closure of the business where they are located.
- If an applicant is unable to submit an application electronically or physically during the disruption, the applicant may submit an application after the Register has announced the end of the disruption, and include a declaration or similar statement certifying, under penalty of perjury, that the applicant was unable to submit an application electronically or physically and would have done so but for the national emergency, and providing satisfactory evidence in support. If this requirement is met, the three-month window under section 412 will be tolled between March 13, 2020, and the date that the disruption has ended. For example, if a work was first published on February 13, 2020, the applicant would have two months following the end of the disruption to register the work in order to be eligible for the remedies under section 412. Note that the timing adjustments under the CARES Act expired on December 31, 2021. Therefore, any time periods tolled under this adjustment will begin to run again on January 1, 2022. For example, an applicant whose work was first published on February 13, 2020, would have until February 28, 2022, to register the work in accordance with this adjustment. Satisfactory evidence for purposes of this option includes, but is not limited to:
- a statement that the applicant did not have access to a computer and/or the internet; or
- a statement that the applicant was prevented from accessing or sending required physical materials for reasons such as those noted above.
Where the Register finds satisfactory evidence that the applicant was affected by the national emergency, the Copyright Office will annotate the registration record to reflect that determination.
Timing Requirements for Registration Applications with Insufficient Fees
The Copyright Office has become aware that disruptions to Office operations during the pandemic could result in certain applications receiving a later effective date of registration than they would have otherwise. During that time, the Office received a number of registration applications for which the incorrect fee was provided. It appears that at least some of the applicants mistakenly provided the fee amount that would have been due prior to the adoption of the Office’s current fee schedule, which took effect on March 20, 2020.
Under section 410(d) of the Copyright Act, the effective date of registration is the date when the Copyright Office receives an acceptable application, complete deposit, and correct fee. Normally, if an applicant fails to submit the correct filing fee, the Office will notify the applicant in writing (see Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition, section 204.2). Due to pandemic-related reductions in on-site staff and associated limitations on operations, however, the Office experienced delays in sending such correspondence between March 2020 and January 2021. The Office understands that these delays were limited to approximately sixty applications, all of which involve databases.
As a result, some applications could receive an effective date of registration outside the three-month window during which a work must be registered to be eligible for statutory damages and attorneys’ fees in an infringement action under section 412.
The Register finds that these delays would not have occurred but for the national emergency and that they have disrupted the ordinary functioning of the copyright system. Accordingly, the Register will adjust the application of section 412 to affected applications under the following conditions:
- The application and deposit were received by the Office between March 20, 2020, and January 31, 2021.
- The three-month window for registration after the date of first publication was open as of the date the application and deposit were received by the Office or opened after that date.
- The application and deposit were accompanied by the full fee amount required under the prior fee schedule, and those funds were fully collectible.
- Notification of the insufficient fee was sent by the Office more than sixty days after submission of the application, deposit, and incorrect fee.
- The Office received a collectable payment for the remaining required fee within forty-five days of the notification being issued.
If these conditions are met, and the Office registers the claim, the three-month window under section 412 will be tolled between March 20, 2020, and the date the correct fee was received by the Office. The latter date will still be the effective date of registration, but the applicant may nevertheless be eligible for statutory damages and/or attorneys’ fees if the infringement commenced after the work’s first publication and on or before the effective date of registration. The Office will annotate the registration records for these works to reflect this adjustment.
Timing Requirements for Serving and Recording Notices of Termination
Under sections 203 and 304(c) of the Copyright Act, individual authors may reclaim copyright interests previously transferred to another party in specified circumstances. In general, an author may terminate a transfer within a five-year window, provided the author serves notice on the transferee between two and ten years before the chosen termination date. After service, the notice must be recorded with the Copyright Office.
The COVID-19 response measures affecting copyright registration may have a similar impact on authors’ ability to serve notices of termination and submit them for recordation. These limitations could have legal consequences for some authors given the statutory requirement that a notice of termination be served at least two years before the date of termination. While in many instances an author may be able to choose a termination date that falls more than two years after the disruption has ended, or may have already anticipated and served a notice of termination, for some grants, the end of the five-year termination window may fall in the spring of 2022, necessitating service of notice by the spring of 2020. While many authors will be able to proceed in the normal course, in some instances, authors may be unable to access the underlying agreement or otherwise comply with the requirements due to the national emergency.
Other authors may be limited in their ability to record notices with the Copyright Office in a timely manner. The Copyright Act requires that a termination notice be recorded with the Office before the date of termination. An author who has already served a termination notice with a date of termination falling during the period of national emergency may be unable to submit the notice to the Office. While the Office is establishing an option to allow notices to be submitted electronically, some authors may lack access to a computer or the internet.
To ensure that these authors are not deprived of their ability to effect termination, the Register will temporarily adjust the section 203 and 304(c) timing requirements to the extent they apply to persons affected by the national emergency. These adjustments will apply as follows:
Where the termination window is expiring, the five-year window for terminating a transfer will be extended during the period of disruption if (1) the author’s five-year termination window expires on or after March 13, 2022, and less than two years after the date the disruption ends; (2) the author serves a notice of termination within thirty days after the date the Register announces as the date the disruption has ended; and (3) the notice of termination is accompanied by a declaration or similar statement certifying, under penalty of perjury, that but for the national emergency, the author would have been able to serve the notice at least two years before the close of the five-year window and setting forth an explanatory statement in support of that certification. This statement must also be included in the material sent to the Office when the notice is later recorded. The Office will annotate the public record to reflect this certification. Note that the timing adjustments under the CARES Act expired on December 31, 2021. Therefore, authors must serve any notices of termination on or before January 30, 2022, to qualify for this adjustment.
When an author meets these requirements, the notice will be considered timely served under section 203(a)(4)(A) or 304(c)(4)(A). The author still would have to choose a termination date at least two years after the date of service.
Where the window to record is expiring, the requirement that a notice be recorded before the date of termination will be waived if (1) the author has already served the notice on the transferee; (2) the termination date listed on the notice is on or after March 14, 2020, and on or before the date the Register announces as the date the disruption has ended; (3) the author records the notice within thirty days after the date the disruption has ended; and (4) the recordation submission includes a declaration or similar statement certifying, under penalty of perjury, that the author would have submitted the notice in a timely manner but for the national emergency and setting forth satisfactory evidence in support of that statement. As is true for registration applications, satisfactory evidence would include, but not be limited to, a statement that the author was prevented from accessing or mailing the required physical materials.
When an author meets these requirements, the notice will be treated as timely recorded for purposes of section 203(a)(4)(A) or 304(c)(4)(A). The Copyright Office will annotate the public record to reflect that determination. Note that the timing adjustments under the CARES Act expired on December 31, 2021. Therefore, authors must record any notices of termination on or before January 30, 2022, to qualify for this adjustment.
Timing Requirements for Pre-1972 Schedules
The Copyright Office has become aware that disruptions to Office operations during the pandemic may have resulted in a limited number of schedules of pre-1972 sound recordings receiving an index date later than otherwise would have been the case.
Under the Music Modernization Act, owners of U.S. pre-1972 sound recordings become eligible for attorneys’ fees and damages if they file schedules listing their pre-1972 sound recordings with the Office, and the unauthorized use occurs more than ninety days after the relevant schedule is “indexed” in the Office’s records. Under the Office’s regulations, a pre-1972 schedule is considered “indexed” once it is made publicly available through the Office’s online database of pre-1972 schedules. Remitters submit their schedules to the Office via email to a monitored inbox ([email protected]).
Due to disruptions stemming from distant telework required during the pandemic, the Office was delayed in processing a few pre-1972 schedules. As a result, such pre-1972 schedules received an index date later than they would have under normal circumstances.
The Register finds that these delays would not have occurred but for the national emergency and that they have disrupted the ordinary functioning of the copyright system. Accordingly, the Register will adjust the index date of pre-1972 schedules submitted to the Office, provided all of the following conditions are met:
- The remitter submitted the pre-1972 schedule in compliance with the Office’s instructions.
- The filing fee has been paid in full and was collectable at the time the pre-1972 schedule was submitted to the Office.
- The pre-1972 schedule was properly submitted to the Office via email to [email protected] between January 1, 2021, and May 4, 2021.
If these conditions are met, the Office will adjust the index date of the relevant schedule in the Office’s online database to the business day on which the cover sheet and pre-1972 schedule were emailed to the Office at [email protected] (or the next business day if emailed during the weekend or on a holiday). The Office believes only three schedules were impacted and meet the above conditions and will notify the affected parties of the index date adjustments.
Timing Requirements for Serving Section 115 Notices of Intention and Statements of Account
Under section 115 of the Copyright Act, a compulsory license to make and distribute phonorecords of a musical work is currently available under certain conditions, including service of a notice of intention (NOI) upon the copyright owner and delivering a monthly statement of account (SOA) and royalty payment to that owner. The Orrin G. Hatch–Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (MMA) made significant changes to the section 115 license. This includes distinguishing obligations for serving an NOI depending upon whether or not the use involves a digital phonorecord delivery (e.g., whether the use is related to a physical product such as a vinyl record or CD, or whether it relates to use on a digital music service). But for both types of uses, users must currently (1) serve NOIs before, or not later than thirty calendar days after, making a phonorecord of the musical work; (2) provide SOAs and related royalty payments on or before the twentieth day of each month, which shall include all royalties for the month next preceding; and (3) also provide an annual SOA.
The Copyright Office has issued regulations related to the format and service of NOIs, SOAs, and related royalty payments. By regulation, SOAs and payments may be sent together or separately, but if sent separately, the payments must include information reasonably sufficient to allow the payee to match them to the corresponding statements. Copyright owners may elect to receive NOIs or SOAs in paper or electronic format (e.g., by email or electronic account), but the default rule is paper delivery. In practice, the Office understands that a majority of copyright owners have generally elected electronic delivery, but a minority receive NOIs and SOAs by paper, either because they simply have not opted into electronic delivery, or, for a smaller minority, because they have affirmatively expressed a preference for paper.
While the MMA’s most significant change is to establish a new blanket license for digital music providers (DMPs) to be administered by a mechanical licensing collective (MLC), this blanket license is not yet available. DMPs and other licensees must continue to comply with section 115’s conditions on a song-by-song basis during the current transition period. The emergency relief outlined below is directed at obligations accruing during this transition period and is unrelated to activities of the MLC. This relief is also necessarily limited to obligations related to the statutory section 115 license and is unrelated to obligations that stem from direct licensing agreements between private parties.
The Copyright Office became aware that, as a result of the COVID-19 national emergency, some entities, including at least one DMP and its licensing administrator, may have been temporarily prevented from serving NOIs and SOAs in a timely manner due to an inability to physically process paper notices and statements resulting from a shutdown of corporate offices. To mitigate the effect of disruption upon all stakeholders of the section 115 license, including licensees, music publishers, and songwriters, the Register temporarily adjusted the application of certain timing provisions. Recognizing that the section 115 license reflects a complex balancing of interests most recently addressed by Congress through passage of the MMA and the existing reliance upon the current structure by various stakeholders, the Office provided a reasonable framework for relief that minimizes disruption to longstanding expectations, including with respect to royalty payments, and promotes transparency in compulsory licensing. These adjustments do not affect the substantive payment obligations to copyright owners, but reflect only timing adjustments in limited circumstances. Note, while the initial April 6, 2020 adjustment also provided an ability to toll the deadline for delivery of paper checks, based upon a showing of need, on July 10, this adjustment expired. To the Office’s knowledge, the processing of statutory royalty payments, including the issuance of paper checks, has remained unaffected.
In January 2021, the Office was advised that this disruption is no longer affecting the timely processing of paper materials. The Register therefore has determined that a further extension of the adjustments pertaining to section 115 is not warranted at this time. The following adjustments accordingly were effective only through January 8, 2021:
- Notices of Intention: The requirement that an NOI be served will be tolled during the period of disruption if the affected entity (1) has sent an alert to the copyright owner (directly or through respective administrators) that it is unable to serve the NOI by paper and provided clear instructions and contact information for the owner to temporarily opt into electronic delivery during the period of disruption in the alert and on a website of the licensee or its licensing administrator; (2) serves the notice within thirty days after the date the disruption has ended, as stated in a public announcement by the Register, along with a clear statement indicating the date or expected date of distribution; and (3) complies with the general conditions outlined below. The alert in subpart (1) of this paragraph may be made by a licensing administrator and will be considered satisfied if the related certifications include a description explaining that an alert was attempted but unsuccessful due to lack of electronic contact information or a lack of ability to deliver an alert stemming from the disruption.
- Statements of Account: The requirement that a monthly or annual SOA be served will be tolled during the period of disruption if the affected entity (1) has sent an alert to the copyright owner (directly or through respective administrators) that it is unable to serve the SOA by paper and provided clear instructions and contact information for the owner to temporarily opt into electronic delivery during the period of disruptions in the alert and on a website of the licensee or its licensing administrator; (2) serves the SOA within thirty days after the date the disruption has ended, along with a clear statement indicating the period (month and year) covered by the applicable statement; (3) complies with the general conditions outlined below; and (4) continues to make timely payment of royalties to payees, whether electronically or by paper check. The alert in subpart (1) of this paragraph may be made by a licensing administrator and will be considered satisfied if the related certification includes a description explaining that an alert was attempted but unsuccessful due to lack of electronic contact information or a lack of ability to deliver an alert stemming from the disruption.
- General Conditions:
- Certification: An entity making use of this adjustment must include a declaration or similar statement on each applicable NOI or SOA certifying, under penalty of perjury, that the entity would have served the NOI or SOA within the statutorily prescribed time but for the national emergency and setting forth satisfactory evidence in support of that statement. Satisfactory evidence would include, but not be limited to, a statement that the licensee and, if applicable, its vendor was prevented from mailing the required physical materials, alerted or attempted to alert the copyright owner of the ability to opt into electronic delivery, and were unable to obtain consent from the copyright owner to receive materials or payment electronically.
- Limitation to Paper-Based Delivery: As of April 6, 2020, this adjustment applies only to NOIs and SOAs sent to persons or entities who had previously received them in paper format prior to the national emergency. An entity with a demonstrated need to extend this adjustment to electronic delivery methods should contact the Copyright Office using the information provided below.
- Contact Information: Entities making use of this adjustment must make contact information and customer service accessible for persons, including copyright owners, who wish to understand how this tolling may affect them, including to opt into a temporary offer of electronic delivery or determine whether their interests are included in the list of affected works and licenses described below. Although the Copyright Office typically does not link to third parties, in light of this emergency relief and the importance of copyright owners obtaining reliable information, the Office is sharing the following contact information: [email protected]. Affected entities who wish to be added to this list should contact the Office using the information provided below.
- Temporary Offer of Electronic Delivery: Entities making use of this adjustment must promptly provide a method for copyright owners who were receiving paper NOIs or SOAs prior to the national emergency to opt in, on a temporary basis, to electronic delivery and, separately, to direct deposit of payments. Such deliveries and deposits must automatically revert to a paper format within thirty days after the date the disruption ends unless the copyright owner has agreed to continued electronic delivery.
- List of Affected Works and Licenses: Entities making use of this adjustment must track how they use it and must maintain a record of licenses by copyright owner for which they have made use of the adjusted timing provisions. They must also keep a list of the affected musical works. Over time, the Office expects the list of licenses with respect to the number of copyright owners to remain the same, or decrease, as copyright owners opt into electronic delivery, while the list of affected works may increase as new sound recordings continue to be released.
- Licensee-Vendor Royalty Delivery: As applicable, an affected DMP or other user must continue to deliver royalty payments to its chosen administrator, so that the administrator may promptly make royalty payments when and where possible.
- Due Diligence: Except for the adjustments provided under this emergency authority, the due diligence requirements of section 115(d)(10) remain unaltered.
CARES Act Tolling of Webcasting Determination Due Date
On May 1, 2020, the Copyright Royalty Judges granted a joint motion of the participants in the pending webcasting rate-setting proceeding (Docket No. 19-CRB-0005-WR (2021-2025)) (Web V) to postpone commencement of the evidentiary hearing, which was originally scheduled to begin on March 16, 2020, to July 27, 2020. The Judges approved the participants’ request in light of the Library’s COVID-related cancellation of all public events until July 1, 2020 (the Library has since extended that cancellation until further notice). On June 10, the Judges adjusted the commencement date to July 20, 2020. Due to the four-month postponement of the hearing, the Judges determined that issuance of their initial determination, which, pursuant to 17 USC 803(c), is due not later than December 16, 2020, would be impracticable. As a result, the Judges requested that the Acting Register toll, for 120 days, the due date of the initial determination. Given the scope and severity of the COVID pandemic and its commensurate disruption of the Web V proceeding, the Acting Register determined that tolling the due date of the initial determination was necessary and appropriate.
Subsequently, the Judges requested a further sixty-day tolling of the deadline due to additional unanticipated COVID-related impacts, including that the delayed hearing ultimately commenced later than expected for reasons related to it needing to be conducted virtually because of the ongoing pandemic. Because of the additional unexpected delay, the Register determined that further tolling of the due date was prudent, and extended the deadline until June 14, 2021. The Judges issued their determination on June 11, 2021. The Judges have assured the Register that the further extension will not delay other matters pending before the Judges, including the remand of Phonorecords III and various royalty distribution proceedings. Notwithstanding the tolling of the due date of the Web V determination, the effective dates of any rates and terms that the Judges adopt in Web V shall continue to be governed by section 803(d)(2) of the Copyright Act.
Individuals Experiencing Additional Issues Should Contact the Copyright Office
If necessary, the Office will consider additional appropriate modifications as it becomes aware of sufficient disruption to the copyright system caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Members of the public who have been affected in their ability to participate in the copyright system are encouraged to contact the Copyright Office through our website at copyright.gov/help/ or by phone at (202) 707-3000. The Office also invites the public to provide feedback regarding the operation of the announced modifications at copyright.gov/help/. Further information about Office operations during the COVID-19 pandemic is available at copyright.gov/coronavirus/. Please note that, for any new email options, applicants must refer to specific instructions provided on that page.
The Copyright Office has published an interim rule that amends its regulations regarding the examination procedures for secure tests and secure test items. To protect confidentiality, the Office has long maintained procedures under which applications to register these materials are examined in person in Washington, D.C. In light of the COVID-19 emergency, in-person examinations have been temporarily suspended. Under today’s interim rule, Copyright Office staff may now perform such examinations remotely via secure videoconference. For more information, please visit the Office’s website.
Newsnet 822 - May 8, 2020
The Copyright Office has published an interim rule that amends its regulations regarding eligibility for the Office’s special registration procedure for “secure tests.” The prior regulations required that a secure test be administered “at specified centers.” Due to the COVID-19 emergency, certain tests normally administered at specified centers are temporarily being administered remotely. Under the interim rule, these tests will remain eligible for registration as secure tests, provided the administrator employs sufficient security measures.
In addition, the Office is currently exploring whether it could conduct examination of secure test claims via secure teleconference. The Office is requesting public comment regarding such a process. The Office also is announcing its intention to issue guidelines to allow interested parties to request informal meetings with the Office in this rulemaking. For more information, please visit the Office’s website.
For general information about Copyright Office operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit copyright.gov/coronavirus. The Copyright Office Public Information Office is available for questions through our website at copyright.gov/help/ or by phone at (202) 707-3000 or 1-877-476-0778 (toll free).
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Copyright Office is expanding its capabilities to receive electronic submissions for Office services. While many of the Office’s services, including applications for copyright registration submitted through the electronic Copyright Office (“eCO”) system, are already largely digital, for other services the applicable regulations or practices allowed submission of materials by physical delivery only. To assist persons who may be unable to send physical mail during the national emergency, the Office is now permitting submissions by email for certain services, including filing notices of termination for recordation, requests for reconsideration of refusals to register, and requests for removal of personally identifiable information from the public record. To facilitate those efforts, the Office today has published a final rule to facilitate electronic submission for additional Office services as administrative processes are established.
The Office has provided a list of current physical and electronic submission options for various services, including the new options implemented in response to the national emergency, on its website and in this chart and has provided answers to frequently asked questions here. This page will be updated as electronic options are introduced or modified.
The Copyright Office Public Information Office is available for questions through our website at copyright.gov/help/ or at (202) 707-3000 or 1-877-476-0778 (toll free).
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Library of Congress buildings are closed to the public, and the U.S. Copyright Office has implemented extended telework requirements to reduce the number of onsite staff. To mitigate the effect of this temporary closure on the examination of electronic applications accompanied by physical deposits, the Office is establishing the following interim rules:
For Applications Filed before April 2, 2020
The Office may contact applicants who have filed an electronic application for which a physical deposit copy has been submitted and received by the Office to offer the applicant the option of providing an additional electronic copy of the work so the Office can examine the claim remotely. This process is only available when the registration specialist assigned to the claim contacts the applicant, offers the option, and enables the upload function to allow for an upload to be associated with the application.
If the applicant agrees to use this option, the applicant must submit both an electronic deposit copy and a declaration form, under penalty of perjury, stating that the electronic copy is identical to the physical copy previously submitted. This document may be uploaded in the same manner as the electronic deposit copy. The registration specialist assigned to the claim will send a declaration form to the applicant and will provide the applicant with instructions for uploading the completed declaration and the deposit to the appropriate claim.
If the applicant cannot, or prefers not to, submit an electronic copy of the deposit, the Office will examine the claim once registration specialists resume in-Office examination. Although examination of the claim will be delayed, the effective date of registration will generally be the date that the Office received the application, fee, and physical deposit.
For Applications Filed on or after April 2, 2020
For newly submitted electronic applications for published works that require the submission of “best edition” physical copies of the deposit, the applicant will have the option of uploading an electronic copy of the work in addition to mailing the required physical copies. Applicants who use this option must submit both an electronic deposit copy and a declaration form, under penalty of perjury, stating that the electronic copy is identical to the required physical copies that the applicant will mail to the Office together with the shipping slip generated in eCO. The declaration states that the applicant has "sent or will send" the physical copies within "three business days" of the date specified in the declaration. Applicants may use the declaration form provided here. This document may be uploaded in the same manner as the electronic deposit copy. If an applicant decides to use this option, registration specialists will be able to examine the claim remotely once they receive the application, fee, electronic deposit copy, and declaration.
If the applicant cannot, or prefers not to, submit an electronic copy of the deposit, the Office will examine the claim once registration specialists resume in-Office examination. Although examination of the claim will be delayed, the effective date of registration will generally be the date that the Office received the application, fee, and physical deposits.
THIS OPTION IS NOT AVAILABLE TO APPLICANTS SUBMITTING PAPER APPLICATIONS.
For applicants filing electronic applications for which physical copies are not required to be submitted, the Office strongly encourages the submission of electronic deposits.
The U.S. Copyright Office continues to be open through our website copyright.gov for online registration, searching copyright-related records, and learning about copyright topics. We are also receiving registration applications and recorded documents sent by mail.
Members of the public may submit emails with questions through our website and reach us by phone at (202) 707-3000, while our office facilities are closed to the public to reduce the risk of transmitting the COVID-19 coronavirus. Additionally, we are unable to accept deliveries by personal courier at this time, though we are currently accepting deliveries via U.S. Postal mail and commercial delivery services such as UPS, FedEx, and DHS.
Staff of the Records Research and Certification Section continue to offer search, records certification, and other services but there will likely be unavoidable delays in processing times.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Library of Congress building and facilities are closed to the public. In addition, the Copyright Office has implemented extended telework requirements, which will limit the number of onsite staff. Assistance by phone and email are still available. Click here for more information.
Teleworking staff will continue to examine electronic copyright applications and digital deposits that are uploaded to the electronic registration system ("eCO"). But we will not be able to examine physical deposits or paper applications at this time.
To minimize the impact on copyright owners who need to register their works on an expedited basis, the Copyright Office has modified its special handling policy:
- Special handling for electronic applications with digital deposits. Special handling claims will be examined within five working days if the applicant submits an electronic application, pays the filing fee and the additional fee for special handling, and uploads a digital deposit to the eCO system.
- Special handling for electronic applications with physical deposits. Applicants who are required to submit a physical deposit should submit an electronic application, pay the filing and the additional fee for special handling, print a shipping slip and attach it to the physical deposit, and mail the physical deposit and shipping slip to the Copyright Office.
Special handling claims with a physical deposit will be examined within five business days if the applicant also uploads a digital copy of that same work through the eCO system. The electronic upload must be accompanied by a declaration or similar statement certifying under penalty of perjury, that the content of the digital deposit is identical to the physical deposit that has been sent to the Copyright Office.
Applicants may use the declaration form provided here.
Note: If the applicant mails a physical copy to the Copyright Office - but does not upload a digital copy to the eCO system - the claim will not be examined until teleworking staff are permitted to return to the Library of Congress's building.
These measures are exceptional in nature and temporary in duration and are projected to terminate when the Library reopens its buildings to the public.
U.S. Copyright Office staff are currently working remotely in an effort to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 respiratory virus. Ordinarily, when the Office refuses to register an application for copyright registration, the refusal letter will be sent to the applicant through U.S. Mail. Because many staff members are not in the Office, examiners cannot send hard-copy letters at this time.
To ensure that applicants receive a timely registration decision, the Office has decided to send refusal letters via email, instead of sending a physical copy through the mail.
When a claim is refused, the refusal letter will be sent to the email address provided in the registration application. The letter will be attached to the email as a PDF attachment. The attached PDF constitutes “written” notice of the Office’s registration decision per 37 C.F.R. § 202.5(b)(4) and 17 U.S.C. § 410(b).
Decision letters for requests for reconsideration to be sent by email
The Office will follow a similar approach when responding to a first or second request for reconsideration: the response will be sent to the email address provided in the reconsideration request. Responses to first requests for reconsideration will include instructions on how to submit a second request for reconsideration. Responses to second requests for consideration via email will constitute final agency action per 37 C.F.R. § 202.5(g).
Please also note that U.S. Copyright Office fees for many services, including the fee to request reconsideration of a refused registration, increased as of March 20, 2020. Applicants are encouraged to review the new fees before preparing any future submissions or requests. Information about the new fees is available here: https://www.copyright.gov/about/fees.html.
For answers to frequently asked questions click here or questions about these processes may be directed to the Public Information Office at: 1 (877) 476–0778.
For more information about how COVID-19 affects Copyright Office operations, please visit copyright.gov/coronavirus/