Copyright Office Releases Report on Women in the Copyright System

Issue No. 968 - June 9, 2022

Today, the U.S. Copyright Office is releasing a report, Women in the Copyright System: An Analysis of Women Authors in Copyright Registrations from 1978 to 2020. The report draws on work by Professor Joel Waldfogel, the Copyright Office’s 2021 Kaminstein Scholar in Residence. Professor Waldfogel recently completed a new assessment of women’s authorship in copyright registrations between 1978 and 2020, as well as women’s role in relevant copyright-based creative industries.

The report reveals that the share of registrations listing women authors has risen over time, with women representing 27.9 percent of authors of works registered in 1978 and 38.5 percent of authors of works registered in 2020. Their level of representation has increased across the board, but with significant variations among different categories of works, ranging in most cases from 20.4 percent to near parity. It is notable, however, that in nearly every category, women make up a smaller share of copyright registrants than they do of the participants in corresponding occupations.

“The Office is pleased to share this analysis of forty-two years of data on women authors and copyright registration, as well as the reference data set,” said Register of Copyrights Shira Perlmutter. “The trends revealed are encouraging, with women making considerable progress in utilizing the copyright system. At the same time, there is work to be done in reaching gender parity in most areas. As part of the Office’s commitment to ‘copyright for all,’ we look forward to continuing to collaborate with colleagues and stakeholders to develop programs responsive to this research, and further empower women to benefit from their creativity.”

In connection with the release of the Women in the Copyright System report, the Office is providing a reference data set in XML format. The data set contains information from roughly 20 million copyright registration records from January 1, 1978, to July 8, 2021.

More information about the report and data set can be found here.