Updates


December 16, 2017 Release

The U.S. Copyright Office made the following upgrades to the electronic registration system:

  • Reorganized the home screen for the electronic registration system.
  • Removed the three questions that previously directed applicants to the Standard Application or the Single Application.
  • Introduced a new and improved version of the Single Application.
  • Modified the authorship statements in the application for registering a serial publication.
  • Added a new feature that will allow certain file types to be uploaded to the electronic registration system, while blocking unacceptable file types.

These upgrades are described below.

Home Screen for the Electronic Registration System

The Copyright Office has updated the home screen for the electronic registration system. Now there is a separate link that may be used to access the Standard Application.  The Office also added a statement explaining that the Standard Application is “recommended for most works.” 

The Office created separate links for its other registration options, such as group registrations, supplementary registration, and the Single Application. The Office also added a brief statement noting that certain restrictions apply when applicants use these other options.

Three Questions Removed from the First Step in the Registration Process

The Copyright Office removed the three “yes” or “no” questions that previously appeared at the beginning of the registration process.

In the past, the Office used these questions to determine if a work could be registered with the Single Application.  If the applicant answered “yes” to all three questions, the system automatically directed the applicant to the Single Application. If the applicant answered “no” to any of these questions, the system automatically directed the applicant to the Standard Application.

Many applicants found these questions confusing, or mistakenly assumed they would not be allowed to proceed if they answered “no.” As a result, applicants often submitted their claims on the wrong form.

The Office eliminated these questions, and as mentioned above, it reorganized the home page for the electronic registration system. To access the Standard Application, applicants must affirmatively select the link specifically designated for that application. To access the Single Application, applicants must affirmatively select the link specifically designated for claims involving “one work by one author.”

The Single Application

In 2013 the Office introduced a new registration option known as the “Single Application.” This application is designed for authors who file the simplest type of claim. Briefly stated, the Single Application may be used to register “a single work by a single author that is owned by the person who created it.” 37 CFR 202.3(b)(2)(i)(B).

The Office has released a new and improved version of this application. The new version includes enhanced features that should improve the user experience, and increase the efficiency of the examination of these claims.

The Copyright Office has prepared an online tutorial that provides step-by-step instructions for completing the new application, and “help text” within the application itself that provides answers to frequently asked questions.  In addition, the Copyright Office has issued a new circular that provides detailed information about this registration option. 

Note: Because this option may only be used to register “one work by one author,” the new version of the Single Application does not provide “templates” that may be used to prepare similar applications for registering other works.

Serial Publications

You may register a serial publication through the electronic registration system by selecting the application for a “Single Serial Issue.”

This application may be used if the serial qualifies as a “collective work.” A “collective work” is defined as a work, such as a periodical issue, in which a number of contributions, constituting separate and independent works in themselves, are assembled into a collective whole.

(Note: If the serial does not satisfy these requirements, you may be able to register the work using the application designated for a “Literary Work.”)

The application for a “Single Serial Issue” may also be used to register an individual article, photograph, or other contribution that appears in a serial publication, but only if the contribution was first published in that issue, and if the claimant owns the copyright in both the contribution and the issue as a whole.

To register a serial publication you must provide a brief statement that best describes the work that the author created. To do so, you should check one of the boxes that appear on the “Authors” screen.

The Office has revised the authorship statements that appear in this portion of the application:

  • If you intend to register the authorship involved in selecting, coordinating, and/or arranging the content that appears within the issue as a whole, you should check the box marked “collective work authorship.”
  • If you intend to register the authorship involved in creating the issue as a whole, and one or more of the contribution(s) that were first published in that issue, you should check the box marked “Collective Work Authorship and Component Work(s) authored or fully owned by the Collective Work Author.”

Note: If these statements do not accurately describe the work you intend to register, you should return to the home screen and select a different registration option.

Uploading a Copy or Phonorecord of the Work

The Copyright Office added a new feature that will allow certain file types to be uploaded to the electronic registration system, while blocking unacceptable file types.

If you upload a copy or phonorecord of the work, the work must be submitted in an acceptable file format. A list of the file formats that will be accepted is posted on the Copyright Office’s website.

If you submit a file that appears on this list, you should receive an email from the Copyright Office confirming that your file has been received.

If you attempt to submit a file that does not appear on the list of acceptable file formats, the system should generate an error message and instruct you to submit the work in a different file format. 

If you intend to upload multiple files, the Copyright Office encourages you to submit them in a compressed ZIP file. However, all of the files within the ZIP file must be submitted in an acceptable file format. If the ZIP file contains any files that do not appear on the list of acceptable file formats, the Copyright Office may communicate with you or may refuse to register your claim.

For step-by-step instructions for uploading a file to the electronic registration system, please see the tutorial on the Copyright Office’s website