(a) In general.
(1) Information relative to the operations of the Copyright Office is supplied without charge. A search of the records, indexes, and deposits will be made for such information as they may contain relative to copyright claims upon application and payment of the statutory fee. The Copyright Office, however, does not undertake the making of comparisons of copyright deposits to determine similarity between works.
(2) The Copyright Office does not furnish the names of copyright attorneys, publishers, agents, or other similar information to the public, except that it may provide a directory of pro bono representation available to participants in proceedings before the Copyright Claims Board.
(3) In the administration of the Copyright Act in general, the Copyright Office interprets the Act. The Copyright Office, however, does not give specific legal advice on the rights of persons, whether in connection with particular uses of copyrighted works, cases of alleged foreign or domestic copyright infringement, contracts between authors and publishers, or other matters of a similar nature.
(b) Inspection and copying of records.
(1) Inspection and copying of completed records and indexes relating to a registration or a recorded document, and inspection of copies or identifying material deposited in connection with a completed copyright registration may be undertaken in the Records Research and Certification Section. Since some of these materials are not stored on the immediate premises of the Copyright Office, it is advisable to consult the Records Research and Certification Section to determine the length of time necessary to produce the requested materials.
(2) It is the general policy of the Copyright Office to deny direct public access to in-process files and to any work (or other) areas where they are kept. However, direct public use of computers intended to access the automated equivalent of limited portions of these files is permitted on a specified terminal in the Records Management Section, LM B-14, Monday through Friday, upon payment of applicable fees.
(3) Information contained in Copyright Office in-process files may be obtained by anyone upon payment of applicable fees and request to the Office of Public Information and Education, in accordance with the following procedures:
(i) In general, all requests by the public for information in the in-process and open unfinished business files should be made to the Records Research and Certification Section, which upon receipt of applicable fees will give a report that provides the following for each request:
(A) The date(s) of receipt of:
(1) The application(s) for registration that may have been submitted and is (are) in process;
(2) The document(s) that may have been submitted for recordation and is (are) in process;
(3) The copy or copies (or phonorecords) that may have been submitted;
(B) The title of the work(s); and
(C) The name of the applicant or remitter.
(ii) Such searches of the in-process files will be given priority to the extent permitted by the demands of normal work flow of the affected sections of the Copyright Office.
(i) Access will be afforded as follows to pending applications for registration, the deposit material accompanying them, and pending documents for recordation:
(A) In the case of applications for registration and deposits accompanying them, upon the request of the copyright claimant or his/her authorized representative, and
(B) In the case of documents, upon the request of at least one of the persons who executed the document or by an authorized representative of that person.
(ii) These requests should be made to the Records Research and Certification Section, and the review of the materials will be permitted there. No charge will be made for reviewing these materials; the appropriate search fee identified in § 201.3(c) or § 201.3(d) will be assessed, and the appropriate copying fee identified in § 201.3(c) or § 201.3(d) will be assessed if the claimant wants and is entitled to a copy of the material.
(5) In exceptional circumstances, the Register of Copyrights may allow inspection of pending applications and open correspondence files by someone other than the copyright claimant, upon submission of a written request which is deemed by the Register to show good cause for such access and establishes that the person making the request is one properly and directly concerned. The written request should be mailed to the address specified in § 201.1(c).
(6) Direct public access will not be permitted to any financial or accounting records, including records maintained on Deposit Accounts.
(7) The Register of Copyrights has issued an administrative manual known as the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition. The Compendium explains many of the practices and procedures concerning the Office's mandate and statutory duties under title 17 of the United States Code. It is both a technical manual for the Copyright Office's staff, as well as a guidebook for authors, copyright licensees, practitioners, scholars, the courts, and members of the general public. The Third Edition and prior editions of the Compendium may be viewed, downloaded, or printed from the Office's website. They are also available for public inspection and copying in the Records Research and Certification Section.
(1) Official correspondence, including preliminary applications, between copyright claimants or their agents and the Copyright Office, and directly relating to a completed registration, a recorded document, a rejected application for registration, or a document for which recordation was refused is available for public inspection. Included in the correspondence available for public inspection is that portion of the file directly relating to a completed registration, recorded document, a rejected application for registration, or a document for which recordation was refused which was once open to public inspection as a closed case, even if the case is subsequently reopened. Public inspection is available only for the correspondence contained in the file during the time it was closed because of one of the aforementioned actions. Correspondence relating to the reopening of the file and reconsideration of the case is considered part of an in-process file until final action is taken, and public inspection of that correspondence is governed by § 201.2(b). Requests for reproductions of the correspondence shall be made pursuant to paragraph (d) of this section.
(2) Correspondence, application forms, and any accompanying material forming a part of a pending application are considered in-process files and access to them is governed by paragraph (b) of this section.
(3) Correspondence, memoranda, reports, opinions, and similar material relating to internal matters of personnel and procedures, office administration, security matters, and internal consideration of policy and decisional matters including the work product of an attorney, are not open to public inspection.
(4) The Copyright Office will not respond to any abusive or scurrilous correspondence or correspondence where the intent is unknown.
(d) Requests for copies.
(1) Requests for copies of records should include the following:
(i) A clear identification of the type of records desired (for example, additional certificates of registration, copies of correspondence, copies of deposits).
(ii) A specification of whether the copies are to be certified or uncertified.
(iii) A clear identification of the specific records to be copied. Requests should include the following specific information, if possible:
(A) The type of work involved (for example, novel, lyrics, photograph);
(B) The registration number;
(C) The year date or approximate year date of registration;
(D) The complete title of the work;
(E) The author(s) including any pseudonym by which the author may be known; and
(F) The claimant(s); and
(G) If the requested copy is of an assignment, license, contract, or other recorded document, the volume and page number of the recorded document.
(iv) If the copy requested is an additional certificate of registration, include the fee. The Records Research and Certification Section will review requests for copies of other records and quote fees for each.
(v) The telephone number and address of the requestor.
(2) Requests for certified or uncertified reproductions of the copies, phonorecords, or identifying material deposited in connection with a copyright registration of published or unpublished works in the custody of the Copyright Office will be granted only when one of the following three conditions has been met:
(i) The Copyright Office receives written authorization from the copyright claimant of record or his or her designated agent, or from the owner of any of the exclusive rights in the copyright as long as this ownership can be demonstrated by written documentation of the transfer of ownership.
(ii) The Copyright Office receives a written request from an attorney on behalf of either the plaintiff or defendant in connection with litigation, actual or prospective, involving the copyrighted work. The following information must be included in such a request:
(A) The names of all the parties involved and the nature of the controversy;
(B) The name of the court in which the actual case is pending or, in the case of a prospective proceeding, a full statement of the facts of the controversy in which the copyrighted work is involved; and
(C) Satisfactory assurance that the requested reproduction will be used only in connection with the specified litigation.
(iii) The Copyright Office receives a court order for reproduction of the deposited copies, phonorecords, or identifying material of a registered work which is the subject of litigation. The order must be issued by a court having jurisdiction of the case in which the reproduction is to be submitted as evidence.
(3) When a request is made for a reproduction of a phonorecord, such as an audiotape or cassette, in which either a sound recording or the underlying musical, dramatic, or literary work is embodied, the Copyright Office will provide proximate reproduction. The Copyright Office reserves the right to substitute a monaural reproduction for a stereo, quadraphonic, or any other type of fixation of the work accepted for deposit.
(e) Requests for removal of requested personally identifiable information from the online public catalog.
(1) In general, an author, claimant of record, or the authorized representative of the author or claimant of record may submit a request to remove certain categories of personally identifiable information (“PII”) described in paragraph (e)(2) of this section from the Copyright Office's online public catalog by following the procedure set forth in paragraph (e)(3) of this section. Where the requester provides verifiable, non-personally identifiable substitute information to replace the PII being removed, the Office will grant the request unless it determines that the need to maintain the original information in the public record substantially outweighs the safety, privacy, or other stated concern. If the requester does not provide verifiable, non-personally-identifiable substitute information, the Office will grant the request only if the safety, privacy, or other stated concern substantially outweighs the need for the information to remain in the public record. The Office will review requests by joint authors or claimants on a case-by-case basis.
(2) Categories of personally identifiable information that may be removed from the online public catalog include names, home addresses, personal telephone and fax numbers, personal email addresses, and other information that is requested by the Office as part the copyright registration application except that:
(i) Requests for removal of driver's license numbers, social security numbers, banking information, credit card information and other extraneous PII covered by paragraph (f) of this section are governed by the provisions of that paragraph.
(ii) Requests to remove the address of a copyright claimant must be accompanied by a verifiable substitute address. The Office will not remove the address of a copyright claimant unless such a verifiable substitute address is provided.
(iii) Names of authors or claimants may not be removed or replaced with a pseudonym. Requests to substitute the prior name of the author or claimant with the current legal name of the author or claimant must be accompanied by official documentation of the legal name change.
(3) Requests for removal of PII from the online catalog must be in the form of an affidavit, must be accompanied by the non-refundable fee listed in § 201.3(c), and must include the following information:
(i) The copyright registration number(s).
(ii) The name of the author and/or claimant of record on whose behalf the request is made.
(iii) Identification of the specific PII that is to be removed.
(iv) If applicable, verifiable non-personally-identifiable substitute information that should replace the PII to be removed.
(v) In the case of requests to replace the names of authors or claimants, the request must be accompanied by a court order granting a legal name change.
(vi) A statement providing the reasons supporting the request. If the requester is not providing verifiable, non-personally-identifiable substitute information to replace the PII to be removed, this statement must explain in detail the specific threat to the individual's personal safety or personal security, or other circumstances, supporting the request.
(vii) The statement, “I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.”
(viii) If the submission is by an authorized representative of the author or claimant of record, an additional statement, “I am authorized to make this request on behalf of [name of author or claimant of record].”
(ix) The signature of the author, claimant of record, or the authorized representative of the author or claimant of record.
(x) The date on which the request was signed.
(xi) A physical mailing address to which the Office's response may be sent (if no email is provided).
(xii) A telephone number.
(xiii) An email address (if available).
(4) Requests under this paragraph (e) must be sent to the Office as prescribed in § 201.1(c).
(5) A properly submitted request will be reviewed by the Associate Register of Copyrights and Director of the Office Public Information and Education or his or her designee(s) to determine whether the request should be granted or denied. The Office will send its decision to either grant or deny the request to the physical mail address or email address indicated in the request.
(6) If the request is granted, the Office will remove the information from the online public catalog. Where substitute information has been provided, the Office will add that information to the online public catalog. In addition, a note indicating that the online record has been modified will be added to the online registration record. A new certificate of registration will be issued that reflects the modified information. The Office will maintain a copy of the original registration record on file in the Copyright Office, and such records shall be open to public inspection and copying pursuant to paragraphs (b), (c), and (d) of this section. The Office will also maintain in its offline records the correspondence related to the request to remove PII.
(7) Requests for reconsideration of denied requests to remove PII from the online public catalog must be made in writing within 30 days from the date of the denial letter. The request for reconsideration, and a non-refundable fee in the amount specified in § 201.3(c), must be sent to the Office as prescribed in § 201.1(c). The request must specifically address the grounds for denial of the initial request. Only one request for reconsideration will be considered per denial.
(f) Requests for removal of extraneous PII from the public record. Upon written request, the Office will remove driver's license numbers, social security numbers, banking information, credit card information, and other extraneous PII that was erroneously included on a registration application from the public record. There is no fee for this service. To make a request, the author, claimant, or the authorized representative of the author or claimant, must submit the request in writing using the contact information listed in § 201.1(c). Such a request must name the author and/or claimant, provide the registration number(s) associated for the record in question, and give a description of the extraneous PII that is to be removed. Once the request is received, the Office will remove the extraneous information from both its online and offline public records. The Office will not include any notation of this action in its records.
[50 FR 30170, July 24, 1985, as amended at 51 FR 30062, Aug. 22, 1986; 62 FR 35421, July 1, 1997; 64 FR 29520, June 1, 1999; 69 FR 39332, June 30, 2004; 69 FR 70377, Dec. 6, 2004; 73 FR 37838, July 2, 2008; 78 FR 42873, July 18, 2013; 82 FR 9007, Feb. 2, 2017; 82 FR 9355, Feb. 6, 2017; 82 FR 21697, May 10, 2017; 85 FR 19667, Apr. 8, 2020; 87 FR 20713, Apr. 8, 2022]