Requirements for Submitting Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notices

Effective May 9, 2019, the Copyright Office accepts Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notices. A Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice is a special type of document that owners of sound recordings fixed before February 15, 1972 (“Pre-1972 Sound Recordings”), may file with the Copyright Office in accordance with the instructions provided on this page.

Under section 1401 of title 17, users may become eligible for a safe harbor allowing certain noncommercial uses of Pre-1972 Sound Recordings that are not being commercially exploited. To qualify for this exemption, a user must file a Notice of Noncommercial Use (“NNU”) proposing a specific noncommercial use of a Pre-1972 Sound Recording after conducting a good faith, reasonable search to determine that the sound recording is not being commercially exploited. The NNU is then indexed into the Copyright Office’s online database, and the rights owner of the sound recording must not object to the use within 90 days by filing an opt-out notice (“Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice”).

If the rights owner files a Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice within 90 days, the user may not take advantage of the safe harbor for the proposed use of the Pre-1972 Sound Recording in the NNU. Depending on the proposed use, however, other exceptions and limitations may still be available to a prospective user, such as fair use and the exceptions for libraries and archives under section 108.

To submit a Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice, you may pay using a credit card or a deposit account with the Office. To pay using a deposit account, at the time of your filing it must contain sufficient funds to pay all applicable fees in total (information about deposit accounts can be found in 37 CFR 201.6(b) and Circular 5).

Required Documents to Submit a Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice

You must submit a:

  • Cover Sheet.
  • Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice consisting of an Excel spreadsheet containing the information required by 37 CFR 201.37 that conforms to the Office’s Excel spreadsheet template.

The cover sheet and templates can be found in the Related Information box to the right. Failure to submit either a cover sheet or a Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice may result in rejection of your filing.

The cover sheet is a fillable PDF form that allows the Office to connect your Pre-1972 Opt-OutNotice with your contact information and fee payment information. It should be completed in conformity with the following requirements:

  • A separate cover sheet should accompany each Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice you file;
  • All fields in the cover sheet are required;
  • All information provided in the cover sheet should match the information provided in the corresponding Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice; and
  • The fees specified in the cover sheet must be calculated in accordance with 37 CFR 201.3(c). The current fee is $50 per Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice.
  • If you wish to pay using a credit card instead of a deposit account, indicate “pay by credit card” in response to questions 6 and 7 on the cover sheet. Do not provide your credit card information. The Office will contact you to obtain your credit card information. Because processing of Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notices will not occur until after the Office has obtained credit card information from the filer, filers are urged to provide accurate contact information on the cover sheet and to respond to the Office in a timely manner.

The cover sheet will not be posted on the Office’s public website.

The Pre-1972 Opt-Out Noticemust be created using the appropriate Excel spreadsheet template provided by the Office, so that the Office can index the information in the Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice into a public database. It should contain all the information required by the template, in accordance with 37 CFR 201.37, including:

  • The sound recording title, featured artist(s), user’s full legal name, the rights owner’s full legal name, and an affirmative “yes” statement that you are opting out of the proposed use.
  • The Copyright Office’s unique identifier assigned to the relevant NNU in the Office’s database. The unique identifier is used by the Office to identify the NNU. The unique identifier for a given NNU can be located in Office’s database of NNUs by clicking the “More Info” button in the line entry for that NNU, or by downloading and exporting data for that NNU from the database into an Excel spreadsheet.  
  • The name of the individual actually submitting the Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice to the Office (either the rights owner or the rights owner’s duly authorized agent) typed into the certification required by 37 CFR 201.37(e)(2) (in row 3 of the template).
  • You may also include additional information, such as completing the “comments” field or providing your contact information.

Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notices will be made available through the Office’s public online database.

Requirements for Submitting Your Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notices

Please send your completed submission to the Copyright Office via email to [email protected]. If electronic submission of your Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice is not feasible due to lack of access to a computer and/or the internet, please contact the Office using the contact information below for special instructions. Each submission email should conform to the following requirements:

  • Each email should contain attachments of both a cover sheet and a corresponding Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice;
  • Each cover sheet and Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice pair should be emailed separately (no email should contain more than one cover sheet or Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice);
  • The Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice must be emailed as an Excel file, and must not be converted to PDF or any other file format;
  • The cover sheet and Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice must not be locked or have any protections or restrictions in place (other than what has already been locked by the Office in the template made available on this page); and
  • All emails must be smaller than twenty megabytes.

Where a sound recording has multiple rights owners:

  • A single rights owner (or her authorized agent) may file a Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice where that owner is not the sole owner.
  • It is not necessary for every rights owner to file a Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice.

Please send your completed submission to the Copyright Office via email to [email protected].

What to Expect After Submission of Notices

Shortly after you have submitted the requisite materials, you will receive an email confirming that your submission has been received by the Office. If your submission complies with the procedural requirements detailed above, the applicable fees will be deducted from the specified deposit account or charged to your credit card, and you will be sent an email confirming that your Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice has been successfully filed with the Office. Next, your Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notice will indexed into the Office’s public records and be made publicly available through the Office’s online database.

Please note that the Office does not analyze Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notices for legal sufficiency. But the Office does review Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notices to confirm that the correct form has been used, that all required information has been provided and is legible, and that the Pre-1972 Opt-Out Notices have been properly certified.

If your submission fails to comply with the Office’s procedural requirements, you will receive an email stating that your submission has been rejected and an explanation of the defect(s).

If you have any questions, please contact the Office at 202-707-3000 or 1-877-476-0778 (toll free), or at [email protected].