November 30, 2019 and January 4-5, 2020 Release

Outdated Applications and Obsolete Templates Removed

The following changes were made to the electronic registration system:

  • Draft copyright applications more than 1 year old: Over the years, many users saved draft applications in the eCO system that have never been submitted to the Copyright Office. To conserve system resources, all draft applications created on or before November 30, 2018 were discarded by the system on January 4-5, 2020. In the future, the Office expects to make similar changes to the system on an annual basis.
  • Obsolete templates: The eCO system offers a “template” feature, which may be used to create a “carbon copy” of a completed application. The template may then be used to create other applications that contain the exact same information as the previous submission.

    Within the past two years the Office amended the rules for registering multiple unpublished works and multiple photographs. As the amended rules explained, applicants are required to use the online application specifically designed for a “Group of Photographs” or a “Group of Unpublished Works” to register these types of works

    As a result, many templates that were previously used to submit these types of claims are now obsolete. If an applicant uses an outdated template to submit an “unpublished collection” or a group of photographs, the claim may be refused for failing to use the correct form. To prevent these mistakes and the loss of filing fees, the following templates were removed from the system on November 30, 2019:

    • Any template created before March 15, 2019, for an unpublished work (the effective date for the final rule on group registration of unpublished works).
    • Any template created before February 20, 2018, for a “photograph” (the effective date for the final rule on group registration of photographs).

August 19, 2019 Release

Beginning August 19, 2019, a “Registration Decision Date” will be included on certificates of registration issued by the U.S. Copyright Office.

To register a work, an applicant must submit a completed application, the appropriate deposit, and the full filing fee. Once these items have been received, the claim will be assigned to a member of the Registration Program. If the work constitutes copyrightable subject matter, and if the other legal and formal requirements have been met, the Office will approve the claim and issue a certificate of registration. In addition, the Office will create an online public record for the registration, which may be accessed through the Office’s website.

Both the certificate and the online public record contain a registration number and an “Effective Date of Registration.” The certificate also contains a “Registration Decision Date.”

The “Registration Decision Date” is the day that the Office completed its examination and approved the claim. This date appears on certificates issued on or after August 19, 2019, but it does not appear in the online public record for such claims.

The “Effective Date of Registration” or “EDR” is the day that an acceptable application, deposit, and filing fee were received in the Office – regardless of when the Office examined and approved the claim. The EDR appears on certificates issued on or after January 1, 1978 and in the online public record for such claims.

March 15, 2019 Release

New Group Registration Option for Unpublished Works

The U.S. Copyright Office recently issued a final rule that establishes a new group registration option for unpublished works (“GRUW”). Beginning March 15, 2019, this option may be used to register up to 10 unpublished works with one application and one filing fee. An exception will be made for eligible sound recordings and the underlying musical compositions, dramatic works, or literary works embodied in the recordings, bringing that to a maximum of twenty (ten sound recordings + ten recorded works). To use this option, applicants must submit the online application specifically designed for a “Group of Unpublished Works” and upload a digital copy of each work.

More information about the requirements for this group registration option may be found here. In addition, the Copyright Office will release a video tutorial, which will provide step-by-step instructions for completing the new application.

Unpublished Collections Eliminated

If an applicant attempts to use the Standard Application or a paper application to register a collection of unpublished works, the Office may refuse the claim and instruct the applicant to submit a new application using the appropriate application for a “Group of Unpublished Works,” along with a new filing fee and a new deposit.

Important Note for Photographers

Photographers may register up to 750 photos with one application and one filing fee. But to do so, you must use the online application designated for “Unpublished Photographs” or “Published Photographs” (rather than the online application for a “Group of Unpublished Works”), and you must submit a digital copy of each photo in JPEG, GIF, or TIFF format.

The final rule also amended the deposit requirements for group photograph claims. It clarifies that the Office will accept digital files, even if the applicant includes punctuation symbols in the file name for each photo.

In the past, the Office was concerned that punctuation in the file name might cause a technical error that could prevent the Office from opening the files. Since then, the Office has confirmed that punctuation should not cause this type of problem.

More information about this amendment may be found here. In addition, the Copyright Office has released video tutorials for GRPPH and GRUPH, which provide step-by-step instructions for completing these applications.