Who is an author?
Under the copyright law, the creator of the original expression in a work
is its author. The author is also the owner of copyright unless there is
a written agreement by which the author assigns the copyright to another
person or entity, such as a publisher. In cases of works made for hire, the
employer or commissioning party is considered to be the author. See Circular 9, Work-Made-For-Hire
Under the 1976 Copyright Act.
What is a deposit?
A deposit is usually one copy (if unpublished) or two copies (if published)
of the work to be registered for copyright. In certain cases such as works
of the visual arts, identifying material such as a photograph may be used
instead. See Circular
40a, Deposit Requirements in Visual Arts Material. The deposit
is sent with the application and fee and becomes the property of the Library
What is publication?
Publication has a technical meaning in copyright law. According to the statute, “Publication
is the distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by
sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending. The
offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes
of further distribution, public performance, or public display constitutes
publication. A public performance or display of a work does not of itself
constitute publication.” Generally, publication occurs on the date
on which copies of the work are first made available to the public. For further
information see Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Publication.”
What is a copyright notice? How do I put a copyright notice on my work?
A copyright notice is an identifier placed on copies of the work to inform
the world of copyright ownership that generally consists of the symbol or
word “copyright (or copr.),” the name of the copyright owner,
and the year of first publication, e.g., ©2008 John Doe. While use of
a copyright notice was once required as a condition of copyright protection,
it is now optional. Use of the notice is the responsibility of the copyright
owner and does not require advance permission from, or registration with,
the Copyright Office. See Circular
3, Copyright Notice, for requirements for works published before
March 1, 1989, and for more information on the form and position of the copyright
What is copyright infringement?
As a general matter, copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work
is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a
derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner.
What is peer-to-peer (P2P) networking?
A type of network where computers communicate directly with each other, rather
than through a central server. Often referred to simply as peer-to-peer,
or abbreviated P2P, a type of network in which each workstation has equivalent
capabilities and responsibilities in contrast to client/server architectures,
in which some computers are dedicated to serving the other computers. A "network" is
a group of two or more computer systems linked together by various methods.
In recent usage, peer-to-peer has come to describe applications in which
users can use the Internet to exchange files with each other directly or
through a mediating server.
Where is the public domain?
The public domain is not a place. A work of authorship is in the “public
domain” if it is no longer under copyright protection or if it failed
to meet the requirements for copyright protection. Works in the public domain
may be used freely without the permission of the former copyright owner.
What is mandatory deposit?
Copies of all works under copyright protection that have been published in
the United States are required to be deposited with the Copyright Office
within three months of the date of first publication. See Circular 7d, Mandatory
Deposit of Copies or Phonorecords for the Library of Congress, and the
Deposit Regulation 202.19.
What is a work made for hire?
Although the general rule is that the person who creates the work is its
author, there is an exception to that principle; the exception is a work
made for hire, which is a work prepared by an employee within the scope of
his or her employment; or a work specially ordered or commissioned in certain
specified circumstances. When a work qualifies as a work made for hire, the
employer, or commissioning party, is considered to be the author. See Circular 9, Work-Made-For-Hire
Under the 1976 Copyright Act.
What is a Library of Congress number?
The Library of Congress Control Number is assigned by the Library at its
discretion to assist librarians in acquiring and cataloging works. For further
information call the Cataloging in Publication Division at (202)
What is an ISBN number?
The International Standard Book Number is administered by the R.R.
Bowker Company, 877-310-7333. The ISBN is a numerical identifier intended
to assist the international community in identifying and ordering certain
What are some other terms commonly used by the
U.S. Copyright Office?
Please see our list of U.S. Copyright
|Note: The Copyright Office offers introductory
answers to frequently asked questions about copyright, registration,
and services of the Office. Links throughout the answers will guide
you to further information on our website or from other sources.
For any other questions, please visit our Contact Us page.