Copyright Basics
The US Copyright Office

Produced by George Davis.

Copyright Basics (Circular 1)

U.S. Copyright Office - Library of Congress

Copyright Basics
September 2000

Copyright Basics

(See Format Note at end of document.)

Table of Contents

+ What Is Copyright?
+ Who Can Claim Copyright
+ Copyright and National Origin of the Work
+ What Works Are Protected?
+ What Is Not Protected by Copyright?
+ How to Secure Copyright
+ Publication
+ Notice of Copyright
+ Form of Notice for Visually Perceptible Copies
+ Form of Notice for Phonorecords of Sound Recordings
+ Position of Notice
+ Publications Incorporating U.S. Government Works
+ Unpublished Works
+ Omission of Notice and Errors in Notice
+ How Long Copyright Protection Endures
+ Transfer of Copyright
+ Termination of Transfers
+ International Copyright Protection
+ Copyright Registration
+ Registration Procedures
+ Original Registration
+ Special Deposit Requirements
+ Unpublished Collections
+ Effective Date of Registration
+ Corrections and Amplifications of Existing Registrations
+ Mandatory Deposit for Works Published in the United States
+ Use of Mandatory Deposit to Satisfy Registration Requirements
+ Who May File an Application Form?
+ Application Forms
+ Fill-in Forms
+ Fees
+ Search of Copyright Office Records
+ For Further Information



Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United
States (title 17, U.S. Code) to the authors of "original works of
authorship", including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and
certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both
published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act
generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to
authorize others to do the following:

+ *To reproduce* the work in copies or phonorecords;

+ To prepare *derivative works* based upon the work;

+ *To distribute copies or phonorecords* of the work to the public by
sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or

+ To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical,
dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures
and other audiovisual works;

+ *To display the copyrighted work publicly*, in the case of literary,
musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and
pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual
images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and

+ In the case of *sound recordings, to perform the work publicly* by
means of a *digital audio transmission*.

In addition, certain authors of works of visual art have the rights of
attribution and integrity as described in Title 17, Chap 1, Section 106a
(Circular 92) of the 1976 Copyright Act. For further information,
request "Copyright Registration for Works of the Visual Arts"

It is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights provided by the
copyright law to the owner of copyright. These rights, however, are not
unlimited in scope. Title 17, Chap 1 of the 1976 Copyright Act
establish limitations on these rights. In some cases, these limitations
are specified exemptions from copyright liability. One major limitation
is the doctrine of "fair use", which is given a statutory basis in Title
17, Chap1, Section 107 of the 1976 Copyright Act. In other instances,
the limitation takes the form of a "compulsory license" under which
certain limited uses of copyrighted works are permitted upon payment of
specified royalties and compliance with statutory conditions. For
further information about the limitations of any of these rights,
consult the copyright law or write to the Copyright Office.


Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created in fixed
form. The copyright in the work of authorship *immediately* becomes the
property of the author who created the work. Only the author or those
deriving their rights through the author can rightfully claim copyright.

In the case of works made for hire, the employer and not the employee is
considered to be the author. Title 17, Chap 1, Sec. 101 of the
copyright law defines a "work made for hire" as:

+ (1) a work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her
employment; or

+ (2) a work specially ordered or commissioned for use as:
+ a contribution to a collective work
+ a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work
+ a translation
+ a supplementary work
+ a compilation
+ an instructional text
+ a test
+ answer material for a test
+ a sound recording
+ an atlas

if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them
that the work shall be considered a work made for hire....

The authors of a joint work are co-owners of the copyright in the work,
unless there is an agreement to the contrary.

Copyright in each separate contribution to a periodical or other
collective work is distinct from copyright in the collective work as a
whole and vests initially with the author of the contribution.

Two General Principles

+ Mere ownership of a book, manuscript, painting, or any other copy or
phonorecord does not give the possessor the copyright. The law
provides that transfer of ownership of any material object that
embodies a protected work does not of itself convey any rights in
the copyright.

+ Minors may claim copyright, but state laws may regulate the business
dealings involving copyrights owned by minors. For information on
relevant state laws, consult an attorney.


Copyright protection is available for all unpublished works, regardless
of the nationality or domicile of the author. Published works are
eligible for copyright protection in the United States if *any* one of
the following conditions is met:

+ On the date of first publication, one or more of the authors is a
national or domiciliary of the United States, or is a national,
domiciliary, or sovereign authority of a treaty party,* or is a
stateless person wherever that person may be domiciled; or *A treaty
party is a country or intergovernmental organization other than the
United States that is a party to an international agreement.

+ The work is first published in the United States or in a foreign
nation that, on the date of first publication, is a treaty party.
For purposes of this condition, a work that is published in the
United States or a treaty party within 30 days after publication in
a foreign nation that is not a treaty party shall be considered to
be first published in the United States or such treaty party, as the
case may be; or

+ The work is a sound recording that was first fixed in a treaty
party; or

+ The work is a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work that is
incorporated in a building or other structure, or an architectural
work that is embodied in a building and the building or structure is
located in the United States or a treaty party; or

+ The work is first published by the United Nations or any of its
specialized agencies, or by the Organization of American States; or

+ The work is a foreign work that was in the public domain in the
United States prior to 1996 and its copyright was restored under the
Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA). Request "Highlights of
Copyright Amendments Contained in the Uruguay Round Agreements Act
(URAA-GATT), [], for
further information.

+ The work comes within the scope of a Presidential proclamation.



Copyright protects "original works of authorship" that are fixed in a
tangible form of expression. The fixation need not be directly
perceptible so long as it may be communicated with the aid of a machine
or device. Copyrightable works include the following categories:

+ (1) literary works;
+ (2) musical works, including any accompanying words
+ (3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music
+ (4) pantomimes and choreographic works
+ (5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
+ (6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works
+ (7) sound recordings
+ (8) architectural works

These categories should be viewed broadly. For example, computer
programs and most "compilations" may be registered as "literary works";
maps and architectural plans may be registered as "pictorial, graphic,
and sculptural works."



Several categories of material are generally not eligible for federal
copyright protection. These include among others:

+ Works that have *not* been fixed in a tangible form of expression
(for example, choreographic works that have not been notated or
recorded, or improvisational speeches or performances that have not
been written or recorded)

+ Titles, names, short phrases, and slogans; familiar symbols or
designs; mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or
coloring; mere listings of ingredients or contents

+ Ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts,
principles, discoveries, or devices, as distinguished from a
description, explanation, or illustration

+ Works consisting *entirely* of information that is common property
and containing no original authorship (for example: standard
calendars, height and weight charts, tape measures and rulers, and
lists or tables taken from public documents or other common sources)



Copyright Secured Automatically upon Creation

The way in which copyright protection is secured is frequently
misunderstood. No publication or registration or other action in the
Copyright Office is required to secure copyright. (See following Note.)
There are, however, certain definite advantages to registration. See
"Copyright Registration." Copyright is secured *automatically* when the
work is created, and a work is "created" when it is fixed in a copy or
phonorecord for the first time. "Copies" are material objects from which
a work can be read or visually perceived either directly or with the aid
of a machine or device, such as books, manuscripts, sheet music, film,
videotape, or microfilm. "Phonorecords" are material objects embodying
fixations of sounds (excluding, by statutory definition, motion picture
soundtracks), such as cassette tapes, CDs, or LPs. Thus, for example, a
song (the "work") can be fixed in sheet music (" copies") or in
phonograph disks (" phonorecords"), or both.

If a work is prepared over a period of time, the part of the work that
is fixed on a particular date constitutes the created work as of that



Publication is no longer the key to obtaining federal copyright as it
was under the Copyright Act of 1909. However, publication remains
important to copyright owners.

The 1976 Copyright Act defines publication as follows:

"Publication" is the distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to
the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease,
or lending. The offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group
of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or
public display constitutes publication. A public performance or display
of a work does not of itself constitute publication.


NOTE: Before 1978, federal copyright was generally secured by the act
of publication with notice of copyright, assuming compliance with all
other relevant statutory conditions. U. S. works in the public domain on
January 1, 1978, (for example, works published without satisfying all
conditions for securing federal copyright under the Copyright Act of
1909) remain in the public domain under the 1976 Copyright Act.

Certain foreign works originally published without notice had their
copyrights restored under the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA).
Request Circular 38B []
and see the "Notice of Copyright" section of this publication for
further information.

Federal copyright could also be secured before 1978 by the act of
registration in the case of certain unpublished works and works eligible
for ad interim copyright. The 1976 Copyright Act automatically extends
to full term (Title 17, Chap. 3, Sec. 304 sets the term) copyright for
all works, including those subject to ad interim copyright if ad interim
registration has been made on or before June 30, 1978.


A further discussion of the definition of "publication" can be found in
the legislative history of the 1976 Copyright Act. The legislative
reports define "to the public" as distribution to persons under no
explicit or implicit restrictions with respect to disclosure of the
contents. The reports state that the definition makes it clear that the
sale of phonorecords constitutes publication of the underlying work, for
example, the musical, dramatic, or literary work embodied in a
phonorecord. The reports also state that it is clear that any form of
dissemination in which the material object does not change hands, for
example, performances or displays on television, is _*not*_ a
publication no matter how many people are exposed to the work. However,
when copies or phonorecords are offered for sale or lease to a group of
wholesalers, broadcasters, or motion picture theaters, publication does
take place if the purpose is further distribution, public performance,
or public display.

Publication is an important concept in the copyright law for several

+ Works that are published in the United States are subject to
mandatory deposit with the Library of Congress. See discussion on
"Mandatory Deposit for Works Published in the United States."

+ Publication of a work can affect the limitations on the exclusive
rights of the copyright owner that are set forth in Title 17, Chap 1
of the law.

+ The year of publication may determine the duration of copyright
protection for anonymous and pseudonymous works (when the author's
identity is not revealed in the records of the Copyright Office) and
for works made for hire.

+ Deposit requirements for registration of published works differ from
those for registration of unpublished works. See discussion on
"Registration Procedures."

+ When a work is published, it may bear a notice of copyright to
identify the year of publication and the name of the copyright owner
and to inform the public that the work is protected by copyright.
Copies of works published before March 1, 1989, must bear the notice
or risk loss of copyright protection. See discussion on "Notice of
Copyright" below.



The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U. S. law,
although it is often beneficial. Because prior law did contain such a
requirement, however, the use of notice is still relevant to the
copyright status of older works.

Notice was required under the 1976 Copyright Act. This requirement was
eliminated when the United States adhered to the Berne Convention,
effective March 1, 1989. Although works published without notice before
that date could have entered the public domain in the United States, the
Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA) restores copyright in certain
foreign works originally published without notice. For further
information about copyright amendments in the URAA, request Circular 38
[] .

The Copyright Office does not take a position on whether copies of works
first published with notice before March 1, 1989, which are distributed
on or after March 1, 1989, must bear the copyright notice.

Use of the notice may be important because it informs the public that
the work is protected by copyright, identifies the copyright owner, and
shows the year of first publication. Furthermore, in the event that a
work is infringed, if a proper notice of copyright appears on the
published copy or copies to which a defendant in a copyright
infringement suit had access, then no weight shall be given to such a
defendant's interposition of a defense based on innocent infringement in
mitigation of actual or statutory damages, except as provided in Title
17, Chap. 5, Sec. 504 of the copyright law. Innocent infringement occurs
when the infringer did not realize that the work was protected.

The use of the copyright notice is the responsibility of the copyright
owner and does not require advance permission from, or registration
with, the Copyright Office.

Form of Notice for Visually Perceptible Copies

The notice for visually perceptible copies should contain all the
following three elements:

1. _The symbol_ (the letter C in a circle), or the word "Copyright," or
the abbreviation "Copr."; and

2. _The year of first publication_ of the work. In the case of
compilations or derivative works incorporating previously published
material, the year date of first publication of the compilation or
derivative work is sufficient. The year date may be omitted where a
pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work, with accompanying textual
matter, if any, is reproduced in or on greeting cards, postcards,
stationery, jewelry, dolls, toys, or any useful article; and

3. _The name of the owner of copyright_ in the work, or an abbreviation
by which the name can be recognized, or a generally known alternative
designation of the owner.

Example: (the letter C in a circle symbol) 2000 John Doe

The "C in a circle" notice is used only on "visually perceptible
copies." Certain kinds of works--for example, musical, dramatic, and
literary works--may be fixed not in "copies" but by means of sound in an
audio recording. Since audio recordings such as audio tapes and
phonograph disks are "phonorecords" and not "copies," the "C in a
circle" notice is not used to indicate protection of the underlying
musical, dramatic, or literary work that is recorded.

Form of Notice for Phonorecords of Sound Recordings*

* Sound recordings are defined in the law as "works that result from the
fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds, but not
including the sounds accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual
work." Common examples include recordings of music, drama, or lectures.
A sound recording is not the same as a phonorecord. A phonorecord is the
physical object in which works of authorship are embodied. The word
"phonorecord" includes cassette tapes, CDs, LPs, 45 r. p. m. disks, as
well as other formats.

The notice for phonorecords embodying a sound recording should contain
all the following three elements:

1. _*The symbol*_ (the letter P in a circle); and

2. _*The year of first publication*_ of the sound recording; and

3. _*The name of the owner of copyright*_ in the sound recording, or an
abbreviation by which the name can be recognized, or a generally known
alternative designation of the owner. If the producer of the sound
recording is named on the phonorecord label or container and if no other
name appears in conjunction with the notice, the producer's name shall
be considered a part of the notice.

Example: (the letter P in a circle symbol) 2000 A. B. C. Records Inc.

NOTE: Since questions may arise from the use of variant forms of the
notice, you may wish to seek legal advice before using any form of the
notice other than those given here.

Position of Notice

The copyright notice should be affixed to copies or phonorecords in such
a way as to "give reasonable notice of the claim of copyright." The
three elements of the notice should ordinarily appear together on the
copies or phonorecords or on the phonorecord label or container. The
Copyright Office has issued regulations concerning the form and position
of the copyright notice in the Code of Federal Regulations (
[] ). For more
information, request [] ,
"Copyright Notice."

-=Publications Incorporating U. S. Government Works=-

Works by the U. S. Government are not eligible for U. S. copyright
protection. For works published on and after March 1, 1989, the previous
notice requirement for works consisting primarily of one or more U. S.
Government works has been eliminated. However, use of a notice on such a
work will defeat a claim of innocent infringement as previously
described provided the notice also includes a statement that identifies
either those portions of the work in which copyright is claimed or those
portions that constitute U. S. Government material.

Example: (the letter C in a circle symbol) 2000 Jane Brown. Copyright
claimed in Chapters 7-10, exclusive of U. S. Government maps

Copies of works published before March 1, 1989, that consist primarily
of one or more works of the U. S. Government _*should*_ have a notice
and the identifying statement.

-=Unpublished Works=-

The author or copyright owner may wish to place a copyright notice on
any unpublished copies or phonorecords that leave his or her control. _
Example: Unpublished work (letter C in a circle symbol) 1999 Jane Doe

-=Omission of the Notice and Errors in Notice=-

The 1976 Copyright Act attempted to ameliorate the strict consequences
of failure to include notice under prior law. It contained provisions
that set out specific corrective steps to cure omissions or certain
errors in notice. Under these provisions, an applicant had 5 years after
publication to cure omission of notice or certain errors. Although these
provisions are technically still in the law, their impact has been
limited by the amendment making notice optional for all works published
on and after March 1, 1989. For further information, request Circular 3



Works Originally Created on or after January 1, 1978

A work that is created (fixed in tangible form for the first time) on or
after January 1, 1978, is automatically protected from the moment of its
creation and is ordinarily given a term enduring for the author's life
plus an additional 70 years after the author's death. In the case of "a
joint work prepared by two or more authors who did not work for hire,"
the term lasts for 70 years after the last surviving author's death. For
works made for hire, and for anonymous and pseudonymous works (unless
the author's identity is revealed in Copyright Office records), the
duration of copyright will be 95 years from publication or 120 years
from creation, whichever is shorter.

Works Originally Created before January 1, 1978, But Not Published or
Registered by That Date

These works have been automatically brought under the statute and are
now given federal copyright protection. The duration of copyright in
these works will generally be computed in the same way as for works
created on or after January 1, 1978: the life-plus-70 or 95/120-year
terms will apply to them as well. The law provides that in no case will
the term of copyright for works in this category expire before December
31, 2002, and for works published on or before December 31, 2002, the
term of copyright will not expire before December 31, 2047.

Works Originally Created and Published or Registered before January 1,

Under the law in effect before 1978, copyright was secured either on the
date a work was published with a copyright notice or on the date of
registration if the work was registered in unpublished form. In either
case, the copyright endured for a first term of 28 years from the date
it was secured. During the last (28th) year of the first term, the
copyright was eligible for renewal. The Copyright Act of 1976 extended
the renewal term from 28 to 47 years for copyrights that were subsisting
on January 1, 1978, or for pre-1978 copyrights restored under the
Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), making these works eligible for a
total term of protection of 75 years. Public Law 105-298
|TOM:/bss/d105query.html| ], enacted on October 27, 1998, further
extended the renewal term of copyrights still subsisting on that date by
an additional 20 years, providing for a renewal term of 67 years and a
total term of protection of 95 years.

Public Law 102-307 [
bin/bdquery/z?d102:SN00756:|TOM:/bss/d102query.html|] enacted on June
26, 1992, amended the 1976 Copyright Act to provide for automatic
renewal of the term of copyrights secured between January 1, 1964, and
December 31, 1977. Although the renewal term is automatically provided,
the Copyright Office does not issue a renewal certificate for these
works unless a renewal application and fee are received and registered
in the Copyright Office.

Public Law 102-307 [
bin/bdquery/z?d102:SN00756:|TOM:/bss/d102query.html|] makes renewal
registration optional. Thus, filing for renewal registration is no
longer required in order to extend the original 28- year copyright term
to the full 95 years. However, some benefits accrue from making a
renewal registration during the 28th year of the original term.

For more detailed information on renewal of copyright and the copyright
term, request "Renewal of Copyright"
[] ; "Duration of
Copyright" []; and
"Extension of Copyright Terms"



Any or all of the copyright owner's _*exclusive*_ rights or any
subdivision of those rights may be transferred, but the transfer of
exclusive rights is not valid unless that transfer is in writing and
signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or such owner's duly
authorized agent. Transfer of a right on a nonexclusive basis does not
require a written agreement.

A copyright may also be conveyed by operation of law and may be
bequeathed by will or pass as personal property by the applicable laws
of intestate succession.

Copyright is a personal property right, and it is subject to the various
state laws and regulations that govern the ownership, inheritance, or
transfer of personal property as well as terms of contracts or conduct
of business. For information about relevant state laws, consult an

Transfers of copyright are normally made by contract. The Copyright
Office does not have any forms for such transfers. The law does provide
for the recordation in the Copyright Office of transfers of copyright
ownership. Although recordation is not required to make a valid transfer
between the parties, it does provide certain legal advantages and may be
required to validate the transfer as against third parties. For
information on recordation of transfers and other documents related to
copyright, request "Recordation of Transfers and Other Documents"

Termination of Transfers

Under the previous law, the copyright in a work reverted to the author,
if living, or if the author was not living, to other specified
beneficiaries, provided a renewal claim was registered in the 28th year
of the original term.* The present law drops the renewal feature except
for works already in the first term of statutory protection when the
present law took effect. Instead, the present law permits termination of
a grant of rights after 35 years under certain conditions by serving
written notice on the transferee within specified time limits.

*The copyright in works eligible for renewal on or after June 26, 1992,
will vest in the name of the renewal claimant on the effective date of
any renewal registration made during the 28th year of the original term.
Otherwise, the renewal copyright will vest in the party entitled to
claim renewal as of December 31st of the 28th year.

For works already under statutory copyright protection before 1978, the
present law provides a similar right of termination covering the newly
added years that extended the former maximum term of the copyright from
56 to 95 years. For further information, request Circular 15a
[] and Circular 15t
[] .



There is no such thing as an "international copyright" that will
automatically protect an author's writings throughout the entire world.
Protection against unauthorized use in a particular country depends,
basically, on the national laws of that country. However, most countries
do offer protection to foreign works under certain conditions, and these
conditions have been greatly simplified by international copyright
treaties and conventions. For further information and a list of
countries that maintain copyright relations with the United States,
request "International Copyright Relations of the United States."



In general, copyright registration is a legal formality intended to make
a public record of the basic facts of a particular copyright. However,
registration is not a condition of copyright protection. Even though
registration is not a requirement for protection, the copyright law
provides several inducements or advantages to encourage copyright owners
to make registration. Among these advantages are the following:

+ Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim.

+ Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is
necessary for works of U. S. origin.

+ If made before or within 5 years of publication, registration will
establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the
copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.

+ If registration is made within 3 months after publication of the
work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and
attorney's fees will be available to the copyright owner in court
actions. Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is
available to the copyright owner.

+ Registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the
registration with the U. S. Customs Service for protection against
the importation of infringing copies. For additional information,
request Publication No. 563 "How to Protect Your Intellectual
Property Right," from: U.S. Customs Service, P.O. Box 7404,
Washington, D.C. 20044. See the U.S. Customs Service Website at
[] for online publications.

Registration may be made at any time within the life of the copyright.
Unlike the law before 1978, when a work has been registered in
unpublished form, it is not necessary to make another registration when
the work becomes published, although the copyright owner may register
the published edition, if desired.



Original Registration

To register a work, send the following three elements _*in the same
envelope or package*_ to:

Library of Congress
Copyright Office
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000

1. A properly completed application form.
2. A nonrefundable filing fee of $30 (effective through June 30, 2002)
for each application.

_NOTE:_ Copyright Office fees are subject to change. For current
fees, please check the Copyright Office Website at
[] write the Copyright Office, or call
(202) 707-3000.

3. A nonreturnable deposit of the work being registered. The deposit
requirements vary in particular situations. The general requirements

Also note the information under "Special Deposit Requirements."

+ If the work was first published in the United States on or after
January 1, 1978, two complete copies or phonorecords of the best

+ If the work was first published in the United States before January
1, 1978, two complete copies or phonorecords of the work as first

+ If the work was first published outside the United States, one
complete copy or phonorecord of the work as first published.

+ If sending multiple works, all applications, deposits, and fees
should be sent in the same package. If possible, applications should
be attached to the appropriate deposit. Whenever possible, number
each package (e. g., 1 of 3, 2 of 4) to facilitate processing.

What Happens if the Three Elements Are Not Received Together

Applications and fees received without appropriate copies, phonorecords,
or identifying material will not be processed and ordinarily will be
returned. Unpublished deposits without applications or fees ordinarily
will be returned, also. In most cases, published deposits received
without applications and fees can be immediately transferred to the
collections of the Library of Congress. This practice is in accordance
with Title 17, Chap. 4, Sec. 408 of the law, which provides that the
published deposit required for the collections of the Library of
Congress may be used for registration only if the deposit is
"accompanied by the prescribed application and fee...."

After the deposit is received and transferred to another service unit of
the Library for its collections or other disposition, it is no longer
available to the Copyright Office. If you wish to register the work, you
must deposit additional copies or phonorecords with your application and

_Renewal Registration_

To register a renewal, send:

1. A properly completed application Form RE and, if necessary, Form RE
Addendum, and

2. A nonrefundable filing fee of $45 without Addendum; $60 with Addendum
for each application. (See Note above.) Each Addendum form must be
accompanied by a deposit representing the work being reviewed. See
Circular 15, "Renewal of Copyright."

*NOTE*: *Complete the application form using black ink pen or type.*
You may photocopy blank application forms. *However*, photocopied
forms submitted to the Copyright Office must be clear, legible, on a
good grade of 8-1/2 inch by 11-inch white paper suitable for
automatic feeding through a photocopier. The forms should be printed,
preferably in black ink, head-to-head so that when you turn the sheet
over, the top of page 2 is directly behind the top of page 1. *Forms
not meeting these requirements may be returned resulting in delayed

Special Deposit Requirements

Special deposit requirements exist for many types of works. The
following are prominent examples of exceptions to the general deposit

+ If the work is a motion picture, the deposit requirement is one
complete copy of the unpublished or published motion picture _and_ a
separate written description of its contents, such as a continuity,
press book, or synopsis.

+ If the work is a literary, dramatic, or musical work *published only
in a phonorecord*, the deposit requirement is one complete

+ If the work is an unpublished or published computer program, the
deposit requirement is one visually perceptible copy in source code
of the *first 25 and last 25 pages* of the program. For a program of
fewer than 50 pages, the deposit is a copy of the entire program.
For more information on computer program registration, including
deposits for revised programs and provisions for trade secrets,
request "Copyright Registration for Computer Programs"

+ If the work is in a CD-ROM format, the deposit requirement is one
complete copy of the material, that is, the CD-ROM, the operating
software, and any manual(s) accompanying it. If registration is
sought for the computer program on the CD-ROM, the deposit should
also include a printout of the first 25 and last 25 pages of source
code for the program.

In the case of works reproduced in three-dimensional copies, identifying
material such as photographs or drawings is ordinarily required. Other
examples of special deposit requirements (but by no means an exhaustive
list) include many works of the visual arts such as greeting cards,
toys, fabrics, oversized materials (request "Deposit Requirements for
Registration of Claims to Copyright in Visual Arts Material"
[]); video games and other
machine-readable audiovisual works (request Circular 61
[]); automated databases
(request Circular 65 [] ,
"Copyright Registration for Automated Databases"); and contributions to
collective works. For information about deposit requirements for group
registration of serials, request Circular 62 "Copyright Registration for
Serials." [] ,

If you are unsure of the deposit requirement for your work, write or
call the Copyright Office and describe the work you wish to register.

Unpublished Collections

Under the following conditions, a work may be registered in unpublished
form as a "collection," with one application form and one fee:

+ The elements of the collection are assembled in an orderly form;

+ The combined elements bear a single title identifying the collection
as a whole;

+ The copyright claimant in all the elements and in the collection as
a whole is the same; and

+ All the elements are by the same author, or, if they are by
different authors, at least one of the authors has contributed
copyrightable authorship to each element. An unpublished collection
is not indexed under the individual titles of the contents but under
the title of the collection.

*NOTE*: A *Library of Congress Catalog Card Number* is different from
a copyright registration number. The Cataloging in Publication (CIP)
Division of the Library of Congress is responsible for assigning LC
Catalog Card Numbers and is operationally separate from the Copyright
Office. A book may be registered in or deposited with the Copyright
Office but not necessarily cataloged and added to the Library's
collections. For information about obtaining an LC Catalog Card
Number, see the following homepage: []. For
information on International Standard Book Numbering (ISBN), write to:
ISBN, R. R. Bowker, 121 Chanlon Road, New Providence, NJ 07974. Call
(877) 310-7333. For further information and to apply online, see
[]. For information on International
Standard Serial Numbering (ISSN), write to: Library of Congress,
National Serials Data Program, Serial Record Division, Washington, D.
C. 20540-4160. Call (202) 707-6452. Or obtain information from



*A copyright registration is effective on the date the Copyright Office
receives all the required elements in acceptable form*, regardless of
how long it then takes to process the application and mail the
certificate of registration. The time the Copyright Office requires to
process an application varies, depending on the amount of material the
Office is receiving.

If you apply for copyright registration, you will not receive an
acknowledgment that your application has been received (the Office
receives more than 600,000 applications annually), but you can expect:

+ A letter or a telephone call from a Copyright Office staff member if
further information is needed or

+ A certificate of registration indicating that the work has been
registered, or if the application cannot be accepted, a letter
explaining why it has been rejected.

Requests to have certificates available for pickup in the Public
Information Office or to have certificates sent by Federal Express or
another mail service cannot be honored.

If you want to know the date that the Copyright Office receives your
material, send it by registered or certified mail and request a return



To correct an error in a copyright registration or to amplify the
information given in a registration, file a supplementary registration
form -- Form CA [] -- with
the Copyright Office. The filing fee is $65. (See Note above.) The
information in a supplementary registration augments but does not
supersede that contained in the earlier registration. Note also that a
supplementary registration is not a substitute for an original
registration, for a renewal registration, or for recording a transfer of
ownership. For further information about supplementary registration,
request Circular 8 "Supplementary Copyright Registration"



Although a copyright registration is not required, the Copyright Act
establishes a mandatory deposit requirement for works published in the
United States. See the definition of "publication." In general, the
owner of copyright or the owner of the exclusive right of publication in
the work has a legal obligation to deposit in the Copyright Office,
within 3 months of publication in the United States, two copies (or in
the case of sound recordings, two phonorecords) for the use of the
Library of Congress. Failure to make the deposit can result in fines and
other penalties but does not affect copyright protection.

Certain categories of works are exempt entirely from the mandatory
deposit requirements, and the obligation is reduced for certain other
categories. For further information about mandatory deposit, request
Circular 7d "Mandatory Deposit of Copies or Phonorecords for the Library
of Congress." [].



For works published in the United States, the copyright law contains a
provision under which a single deposit can be made to satisfy both the
deposit requirements for the Library and the registration requirements.
In order to have this dual effect, the copies or phonorecords must be
accompanied by the prescribed application form and filing fee.



The following persons are legally entitled to submit an application

+ *The author*. This is either the person who actually created the
work or, if the work was made for hire, the employer or other person
for whom the work was prepared.

+ *The copyright claimant*. The copyright claimant is defined in
Copyright Office regulations as either the author of the work or a
person or organization that has obtained ownership of all the rights
under the copyright initially belonging to the author. This category
includes a person or organization who has obtained by contract the
right to claim legal title to the copyright in an application for
copyright registration.

+ *The owner of exclusive right(s)*. Under the law, any of the
exclusive rights that make up a copyright and any subdivision of
them can be transferred and owned separately, even though the
transfer may be limited in time or place of effect. The term
"copyright owner" with respect to any one of the exclusive rights
contained in a copyright refers to the owner of that particular
right. Any owner of an exclusive right may apply for registration of
a claim in the work.

+ *The duly authorized agent* of such author, other copyright
claimant, or owner of exclusive right(s). Any person authorized to
act on behalf of the author, other copyright claimant, or owner of
exclusive rights may apply for registration.

There is no requirement that applications be prepared or filed by an



For Original Registration

Form PA []
for published and unpublished works of the performing arts (musical
and dramatic works, pantomimes and choreographic works, motion
pictures and other audiovisual works)

Form SE []

for serials, works issued or intended to be issued in successive parts
bearing numerical or chronological designations and intended to be
continued indefinitely (periodicals, newspapers, magazines,
newsletters, annuals, journals, etc.)

Form SR []

for published and unpublished sound recordings

Form TX []

for published and unpublished nondramatic literary works

Form VA []

for published and unpublished works of the visual arts (pictorial,
graphic, and sculptural works, including architectural works)

Form G/DN []

a specialized form to register a complete month's issues of a daily
newspaper when certain conditions are met

Short Form SE [], and
Short Form SE Group []

specialized SE forms for use when certain requirements are met

Short Form TX [],
Short Form PA [], and
Short Form VA []

short versions of applications for original registration. For further
information about using the short forms, request publication SL-7.

Form GATT [], and
Form GATT/GRP []

specialized forms to register a claim in a work or group of related
works in which U. S. copyright was restored under the 1994 Uruguay
Round Agreements Act (URAA). For further information, request Circular
38b [].

For Renewal Registration

Form RE []

for claims to renew copyright in works copyrighted under the law in
effect through December 31, 1977 (1909 Copyright Act) and registered
during the initial 28-year copyright term

Form RE Addendum []

accompanies Form RE for claims to renew copyright in works copyrighted
under the 1909 Copyright Act but never registered during their initial
28-year copyright term

For Corrections and Amplifications

Form CA []

for supplementary registration to correct or amplify information given
in the Copyright Office record of an earlier registration

For a Group of Contributions to Periodicals

Form GR/CP []

an adjunct application to be used for registration of a group of
contributions to periodicals in addition to an application Form TX,
PA, or VA

How to Obtain Application Forms

See "For Further Information" below.

You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader (R)
[] installed on your
computer to view and print the forms accessed on the Internet. Adobe
Acrobat Reader may be downloaded free from Adobe Systems Incorporated
through links from the same Internet site from which the forms are

Print forms head to head (top of page 2 is directly behind the top of
page 1) on a single piece of good quality, 8-1/2-inch by 11-inch white
paper. To achieve the best quality copies of the application forms, use
a laser printer.


All Copyright Office forms are available on the Copyright Office Website
in fill-in version. Go to and follow
the instructions. The fill-in forms allow you to enter information while
the form is displayed on the screen by an Adobe Acrobat Reader product.
You may then print the completed form and mail it to the Copyright
Office. Fill-in forms provide a clean, sharp printout for your records
and for filing with the Copyright Office.



All remittances should be in the form of drafts, that is, checks, money
orders, or bank drafts, payable to: Register of Copyrights. Do not
send cash. Drafts must be redeemable without service or exchange fee
through a U. S. institution, must be payable in U. S. dollars, and must
be imprinted with American Banking Association routing numbers.
International Money Orders and Postal Money Orders that are negotiable
only at a post office are not acceptable.

If a check received in payment of the filing fee is returned to the
Copyright Office as uncollectible, the Copyright Office will cancel the
registration and will notify the remitter.

The filing fee for processing an original, supplementary, or renewal
claim is nonrefundable, whether or not copyright registration is
ultimately made.

*Do not send cash*. The Copyright Office cannot assume any
responsibility for the loss of currency sent in payment of copyright
fees. For further information, request Circular 4 "Copyright Fees"

*NOTE*: Copyright Office fees are subject to change. For current
fees, please check the Copyright Office Website at, write the Copyright Office, or call
(202) 707-3000.



The records of the Copyright Office are open for inspection and
searching by the public. Moreover, on request, the Copyright Office
will search its records for you at the statutory hourly rate of $65 for
each hour or fraction of an hour. (See NOTE above.) For information on
searching the Office records concerning the copyright status or
ownership of a work, request "How to Investigate the Copyright Status of
a Work" [], and "The
Copyright Card Catalog and the Online Files of the Copyright Office"

Copyright Office records in machine-readable form cataloged from January
1, 1978, to the present, including registration and renewal information
and recorded documents, are now available for searching on the Internet.
These files may be examined through LOCIS (Library of Congress
Information System). You may connect to LOCIS through the World Wide Web
at []



*Information via the Internet*: Circulars, announcements, regulations,
other related materials, and all copyright application forms are
available from the Copyright Office Website at

*Information by fax*: Circulars and other information (but not
application forms) are available from Fax-on-Demand at (202) 707-2600.

*Information by telephone*: For general information about copyright,
call the Copyright Public Information Office at (202) 707-3000. The TTY
number is (202) 707-6737. Information specialists are on duty from 8:30
a. m. to 5:00 p. m. Monday through Friday, eastern time, except federal
holidays. Recorded information is available 24 hours a day. Or, if you
know which application forms and circulars you want, request them from
the Forms and Publications Hotline at (202) 707-9100 24 hours a day.
Leave a recorded message.

*Information by regular mail*: Write to:

Library of Congress
Copyright Office
Publications Section, LM-455
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000

For a list of other material published by the Copyright Office, request
Circular 2 "Publications on Copyright"


The Copyright Office provides a free electronic mailing list, *NewsNet,*
that issues periodic email messages on the subject of copyright. The
messages alert subscribers to hearings, deadlines for comments, new and
proposed regulations, new publications, and other copyright-related
subjects of interest. NewsNet is not an interactive discussion group. To
subscribe, send a message to In the body of the
message say: SUBSCRIBE USCOPYRIGHT. You will receive a standard
welcoming message indicating that your subscription to *NewsNet* has
been accepted.

The Copyright Public Information Office is open to the public 8:30 a.m.
to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, eastern time, except federal
holidays. The office is located in the Library of Congress, James
Madison Memorial Building, Room 401, at 101 Independence Avenue, S.E.,
Washington, D.C., near the Capitol South Metro stop. Information
specialists are available to answer questions, provide circulars, and
accept applications for registration. Access for disabled individuals is
at the front door on Independence Avenue, S.E.

The Copyright Office is not permitted to give legal advice. If
information or guidance is needed on matters such as disputes over the
ownership of a copyright, suits against possible infringers, the
procedure for getting a work published, or the method of obtaining
royalty payments, it may be necessary to consult an attorney

Library of Congress
Copyright Office
101 Independence Avenue, S. E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000

Rev: December 2000

*Format Note*:

This electronic version has been altered slightly from the original
printed text for presentation on the World Wide Web. For a copy of the
original circular, consult the Circular 1 pdf version
[], or write to Copyright
Office, 101 Independence Avenue S.E., Washington, D.C. 20559-6000.


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