Preregister Your Work

Preregistration is a service intended for works that have had a history of prerelease infringement. It focuses on the infringement of movies, recorded music, and other copyrighted materials before copyright owners have had the opportunity to market fully their products.


IMPORTANT: Preregistration is not registration. Before you submit an application for preregistration, make sure you want to preregister your work rather than register it.

  • For the vast majority of works, preregistration is not useful.
  • Preregistration is not a substitute for registration. If you do preregister your work, you are required to register it when it is published.
  • You may register an unpublished work for online, without preregistering it. The nonrefundable filing fee for preregistration is $140. Use Form PRE to preregister your work (available on the website)

You may benefit by preregistering your work if:

  • you think it’s likely someone may infringe your work before it is released; and
  • you have started your work but have not finished it.

Read more detailed information below to decide if preregistration is right for you.


You may also search Preregistration Records approved by the Copyright Office from October 2005 to date.


Background

Pursuant to the provisions of the Artists' Rights and Theft Prevention Act of 2005, the Copyright Office is accepting preregistration of unpublished works that are being prepared for commercial distribution for types of works that the Register of Copyrights determined have had a history of pre-release infringement. The Office conducted a rulemaking and has issued an interim regulation on preregistration of unpublished works (read more on rulemaking).


Preregistration is not a substitute for registration. Its purpose is to allow an infringement action to be brought before the authorized commercial distribution of a work and full registration thereof, and to make it possible, upon full registration, for the copyright owner to receive statutory damages and attorneys' fees in an infringement action.


A person who has preregistered a work is required, in order to preserve the legal benefits of preregistration, to register such work within one month after the copyright owner becomes aware of infringement and no later than three months after first publication. If full registration is not made within the prescribed time period, a court must dismiss an action for copyright infringement that occurred before or within the first two months after first publication.


Requirements

You may submit a work for preregistration only if it meets these three conditions:

  1. 1. the work must be unpublished

  2. 2. the work must be in the process of being prepared for commercial distribution in either physical or digital format, e.g., film copies, CDs, or computer programs to be sold online

  3. 3. the work must be one of the following types:

    • Motion Pictures

      Definition from the copyright law, 17 U.S.C. 101:

      An audiovisual work consisting of a series of related images which, when shown in succession, impart an impression of motion, together with accompanying sounds, if any.


      From Compendium of Copyright Office Practices, sec. 480.03:

      A motion picture may embody the contributions of many persons whose efforts are brought together to make a unified cinematographic work of authorship.


      Eligibility: To be eligible for preregistration, it is required that:

      • 1. creation and fixation of the work in a motion picture format must have already commenced, i.e., filming must have begun
      • 2. the claimant in the work can verify that he has a reasonable expectation that the work will be commercially distributed.
    • Definition from the copyright law, 17 U.S.C. 101:

      A work resulting from the fixation of a series of musical or other sounds, but not including the sounds accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work.


      From Compendium of Copyright Office Practices, sec. 495.01:

      Sound recording authorship may be contributed by the performer or by the record producer and many times is contributed by both.


      Eligibility: All sound recordings, including those having musical compositions as well as other types of underlying works, e.g., spoken poems, are eligible for preregistration. In addition, it is required that:

      • 1. at least some of the sounds must already have been fixed in a sound recording medium
      • 2. the claimant in the work can verify that he has a reasonable expectation that the work will be commercially distributed
    • Definition From Compendium of Copyright Office Practices, sections 401 - 403.01:

      Original music, including any accompanying lyrics; also, original arrangements or other derivative versions of earlier musical compositions to which new copyrightable authorship has been added. Music is generally defined as a succession of pitches or rhythms, or both, usually in some definite pattern. Musical works are registrable without regard to aesthetic standards.


      Eligibility: To be eligible for preregistration, it is required that:

      • 1. creation of the musical work and fixation in some tangible medium, such as notated copies or audio recordings, must have commenced
      • 2. a performance of the completed musical work will be reproduced in a sound recording or in a sound track of a motion picture which is intended for distribution, either in hard-copy formats or online
      • 3. the claimant in the work can verify that he has a reasonable expectation the work will be commercially distributed
    • Definition from the copyright law, 17 U.S.C. 101:

      Literary works are works, other than audiovisual works, expressed in words, numbers, or other verbal or numerical symbols or indicia.


      From Compendium of Copyright Office Practices, section 303:

      A nondramatic literary work is one that explains, describes, or narrates a particular idea, theme or subject.


      Eligibility: To be eligible for preregistration, it is required that:

      • 1. creation and fixation of the literary work must have already commenced
      • 2. the claimant in the work can verify that he has a reasonable expectation that the work will be commercially distributed in the form of a book
    • Definition from the copyright law, 17 U.S.C. 101:

      A computer program is a set of statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in a computer in order to bring about a certain result.


      From Compendium of Copyright Office Practices, section 321.03:

      The Copyright Office considers source and object code as two representations of the same computer program.


      Eligibility: To be eligible for preregistration, it is required that:

      • 1. creation and fixation of the computer program – i.e., the code – must have already commenced
      • 2. the claimant in the work can verify that he has a reasonable expectation that the work will be commercially distributed
    • Definition from the copyright law, 17 U.S.C. 101:

      includes photographs in its definition of “pictorial, graphic and sculptural works.”


      From Compendium of Copyright Office Practices, section 508.01:

      Original photographic composition capable of supporting [normal] registration may include such elements as time and light exposure, camera angle or perspective achieved, deployment of light and shadow from natural or artificial light sources, and the arrangement or disposition of persons, scenery, or other subjects depicted in the photograph.


      Eligibility: To be eligible for preregistration, it is required that:

      • 1. creation and fixation of the advertising or marketing photograph for a product or service must have already commenced, although further editing or modifications may not yet have occurred
      • 2. the claimant can verify that he has a reasonable expectation that the photograph will be commercially distributed

      NOTE: A claimant may also preregister multiple photographs taken for use in a particular advertising and marketing project for a particular product or service, if at least some of the photographs have been created and fixed and if the claimant can verify that he has a reasonable expectation that at least one of the photographs will be commercially distributed.

To preregister a work, you will be required to submit:

  • 1. an online application, which includes a certification of a reasonable expectation that the work will be commercially distributed and that the information given in the application is correct
  • 2. a nonrefundable $140 filing fee NOTE: The filing fee will not be refunded whether or not the preregistration is ultimately made.

Read Preregistration Information for more details.



If you encounter technical difficulties with the Preregistration System, please contact us.