Operations Updates Stemming From the COVID-19 Pandemic
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Copyright Office continued to serve Congress and the public by ensuring an effective copyright system, even in the face of unprecedented challenges.
Although the Office was first closed to the public on March 13, 2020, as of July 2020, the Office began a phased restoration of onsite operations, including the processing of physical materials received while the Office was closed. We are once again receiving deliveries via U.S. Postal Service mail and commercial delivery services such as UPS, FedEx, and DHS. Couriers must follow specific instructions for making deliveries provided by the U.S. Capitol Police, outlined here. Currently, all mail is being promptly processed, based on the order in which it was received at an off-site facility.
Certain on-site services in our offices in Washington, DC, are now available by appointment.
For visits to our Copyright Public Records Reading Room, where registered users can access the card catalog, copyright registration records, and licensing public records, make an appointment here. You may continue to contact the Records Research and Certification Section via email for search assistance, records certification, and other services, although there may be processing delays.
You may also continue to submit registration applications, request certified copies of certificates or copyright deposits, or request searches online. Or you can visit our Public Information Office by making an appointment here. If you have any questions about which services are available, or for any other assistance, you can also reach our Public Information Office through our online form or by phone at (202) 707-3000 or 1-877-476-0778 (toll-free).
Specific information about operations updates made during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found in the "Archived Webpage" box.
Operational procedures that remain in effect are in the drop-down menus below.
On February 19, 2021, the Copyright Office published an interim rule that amended its regulations regarding the examination procedures for secure tests and secure test items. To protect confidentiality, the Office long maintained procedures under which applications to register these materials were examined in person in Washington, DC.
Under this interim rule, Copyright Office staff perform such examinations remotely via secure videoconference. For more information, please review the Office’s rulemaking webpage and Circular 64 (Copyright Registration of Secure Tests and Test Items).
The U.S. Copyright Office has expanded its capabilities to receive electronic submissions for Office services.
Registration for Claims with Physical Deposits
When submitting an electronic application for a published work that requires the submission of “best edition” physical copies of the deposit, an applicant has 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 found here. This form declares under penalty of perjury 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 also states that the applicant has “sent or will send" the physical copies within "three business days" of the date specified in the declaration. This declaration may be uploaded in the same manner and at the same time as the electronic deposit copy.
You may only use this option if you have already mailed the physical copy and shipping slip or intend to mail it within three business days of submitting the form. If you decide to use this option, registration specialists will be able to proceed with examination once they receive the application, fee, electronic deposit copy, and declaration form.
If you cannot, or prefer not to, submit an electronic copy of the work, the Office will proceed with the examination process once the physical deposit reaches a registration specialist. Although examination will likely 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.
If an applicant submits an electronic application for any other work that does not require the submission of “best edition” physical copies of the deposit, the Office strongly encourages the submission of electronic deposits.
Registration Special Handling
For special handling of electronic applications with digital deposits, 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.
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 applications with a physical deposit will undergo the examination process within five business days of receipt if the applicant also uploads a digital copy of that same work through the eCO system. The digital copy must be accompanied by a Deposit Ticket Declaration Form or similar statement in the “Note to Copyright Office” section of the application, 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.
Other Registration-Related Services
Requests to reopen applications closed as a “no reply” can only be submitted online here.
A voluntary cancellation request can be mailed to the Office or emailed to [email protected]
Special relief requests from Copyright Office deposit requirements under 17 USC § 408 can be mailed to the Office or submitted in eCO using a cover letter or a note in the “Note to Copyright Office” section of the application.
Special relief requests from mandatory deposit requirements under 17 USC § 407 can be mailed to the Office or made by email in response to a demand.
As of July 2022, any member of the public may now participate in the expanded pilot program of the Office’s new online Recordation System. This means that members of the public may submit certain types of documents for recordation electronically through the new online system. The pilot program is governed by 37 CFR § 201.4(h) and the expanded special pilot program rules can be found here. Participation is optional though strongly encouraged.
You may continue to submit documents for recordation in paper form except:
Schedules of pre-1972 sound recordings can only be submitted via email to [email protected]
Electronic Refusal Letters
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, when the Office refused to register an application for copyright registration, the refusal letter was ordinarily sent to the applicant through U.S. Mail. As of March 20, 2020, the Office announced it would no longer send hard-copy refusal letters.
To ensure that applicants receive a timely registration decision, the Office will continue 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 for the correspondent 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 CFR § 202.5(b)(4) and 17 USC § 410(b).
Electronic Requests for Reconsideration and Decision Letters
A first request for reconsideration (to appeal a refusal to register from the Office) and a second request for reconsideration (to appeal the Office’s decision to uphold a refusal to register after reviewing a first request for reconsideration) can be mailed to the Office or emailed to [email protected]
The Office will send responses to either a first or second request for reconsideration 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 will constitute final agency action per 37 CFR § 202.5(g).
For more information, see our NewsNet.
The Office is making available the archived version of this webpage, copyright.gov/coronavirus, which provides more information on operations updates that happened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.