Privacy: Copyright Public Records

Why is personally identifiable information included in a record?

The Copyright Office requests and receives certain types of personally identifiable information (PII) during the registration process, some of which are required by copyright law and Office regulations. The Copyright Office is required to maintain registration records, including the applications, and make them available to the public for inspection.

Can I remove information that I don't want made available to the public?

Generally, no. When you register a claim to copyright in a work with the Copyright Office, you create a public record of your claim. All information you provide on your copyright registration will be available to the public, and most of it will be available online. Under certain circumstances, authors and claimants, or their authorized representatives, may request that the Office remove or replace certain personally identifiable information (PII) from the Office’s online public catalog. Categories of PII that may be removed if requirements are met include names, home addresses, personal telephone and fax numbers, personal email addresses, and other information requested on a registration application. But any information that is removed from the Office’s online public catalog will remain in the Office’s offline records and available for public inspection, as required by law.

How can I prevent personally identifiable information from appearing in the record?

When completing a new registration application, you may wish to consider providing a non-personal address, phone number, or email address instead of personal contact information or any other optional detail you consider to be sensitive. This could include information such as a PO Box, a business address, an agent’s contact information, or a dedicated business email address.

For existing registration records, under certain circumstances, authors and claimants, or their authorized representatives, may request that the Office remove or replace certain personally identifiable information (PII) from the Office’s online public catalog. Categories of PII that may be removed if requirements are met include names, home addresses, personal telephone and fax numbers, personal email addresses, and other information requested on a registration application. But any information that is removed from the Office’s online public catalog will remain in the Office’s offline records and available for public inspection, as required by law.

For both new and existing records, extraneous personally identifiable information, such as driver’s license numbers, Social Security numbers, banking information, and credit card information, if identified, will be removed proactively by the Office or upon request by authors, claimants, or their authorized representatives.

Can I remove a name from a record?

The name of an author or claimant can only be removed from the online record if the author or claimant has had a legal name change and the requestor provides documentation of such. In this case, the Office may remove the existing author or claimant name and replace it with the new legal name. The Office will not remove an author or claimant name without a replacement, nor will the Office replace the author or claimant name with the author or claimant’s pseudonym, pen name, or other assumed name.

Likewise, if the author or claimant’s pseudonym appears in the registration record, the Office will not remove the pseudonym.

A name other than an author or claimant name may be removed or replaced regardless of whether there has been a legal name change. In this case, the requestor must provide a stated safety, privacy, or other concern. The Office will remove the information if it determines that the stated concern substantially outweighs the need for the information to remain in the record.

In all cases, any name that is removed from the Office’s online public catalog will remain in the Office’s offline records and available for public inspection, as required by law.

Can I remove an address from a record?

The claimant address can only be removed from the online public record if an alternative physical address is provided, such as a business address, an agent’s address, or a PO Box. The Office will not remove a claimant’s address without a replacement.

An address other than a claimant address may be completely removed without providing a replacement. In this case, the requestor must provide a stated safety, privacy, or other concern. The Office will remove the information if it determines that the stated concern substantially outweighs the need for the information to remain in the record.

In all cases, any address that is removed from the Office’s online public catalog will remain in the Office’s offline records and available for public inspection, as required by law.

How can I request removal of personally identifiable information from the online public record?

You may submit a personally identifiable information (PII) removal request electronically by completing this form and paying the required fee using the payment instructions provided after the form is completed.

Alternatively, you may mail a written request. Your written request must be labeled “Request to Remove PII” and include the following:

Mail your written request to

Associate Register of Copyrights and Director of the Office of Public Information and Education
U.S. Copyright Office
PO Box 70400
Washington, DC 20024-0400

Can anyone view personally identifiable information in the historical public records?

Yes. The Copyright Office is required by law to maintain records of copyright registrations and to make them available for public inspection. Individuals may come to the Copyright Office to inspect its public records, including historical public records. Individuals may also request copies of records from the Copyright Office’s Records Research and Certification Section. Catalog information for registration records dating from January 1, 1978, is available on the Copyright Office’s website, and information relating to registrations made before January 1, 1978, are being digitized and made available online through the Office’s Historical Public Records program.

Does the personally identifiable information removal fee apply to all registration records made available online?

Yes, the personally identifiable information (PII) removal fee applies to all online registration records, including those made available in the Office’s Official Public Catalog and Copyright Public Records System pilot, both of which include registration records dating from January 1, 1978, and through the Office’s Historical Record Books program, which includes digitized copies of registration applications prior to January 1, 1978.

Will my registration records help provide contact information for someone interested in using my work?

Records of copyright registrations and documents that are recorded in relation to them can be used by the public to identify the author(s) and copyright owner(s) of a work. The public record may also provide information about an agent of the owner who can be contacted to license the registered work or to request permission to use it.

Why is my copyright registration information now appearing on search engines such as Google?

Because your copyright registration is a public record, others can access it and may create alternative means to make the information in it more widely available. The Copyright Office is not responsible for the form or the substance of third-party redistribution of Copyright Office records.

Why did the Copyright Office decide to publish historical public records online at this time?

Historical public records books are subject to physical deterioration and may be difficult to access by those outside of a particular geographic region or with other physical access limitations. Through digitization, the Office is preserving important historical and cultural records for future research, and posting these records online improves public access.

Sample Catalog Records

The sample catalog records below show the information from copyright applications that is typically displayed in the Copyright Office online database. Highlighting is added to show certain personal information that may appear in the record.