Sep 27 | 2020

Filing Copyright Applications During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Like many of us, the U.S. Copyright Office has been working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, statutory deadlines wait for no one, not even viruses. As a result, the Copyright Office has made temporary, optional changes and accommodations to the application process to allow registration specialists to continue to examine and process applications despite working remotely. While there are multiple types of applications, electronically filed standard applications are the most common. If you are interested in an overview of COVID-19 procedures for the other types of submissions, please follow this link: https://www.copyright.gov/coronavirus/filing-options/filing-options.pdf.  

The filing process for electronic standard applications in eCo (Electronic Copyright Office) remains essentially the same, from filling out the electronic application through submitting payment. The notable difference concerns the deposit copies submitted with each application.

Under “normal” circumstances, one must submit a deposit copy that is the “best edition” of the claimed work in the application. The law states that “The ‘best edition’ of a work is the edition, published in the United States at any time before the date of deposit, that the Library of Congress determines to be most suitable for its purposes.” (17 U.S.C. § 101) For example, a DVD copy of a movie would be required, even though the film might also be available via a downloadable file; similarly, physical books are preferable to e-books.

The pandemic, however, has led to a remote workforce, so the Copyright Office now allows an option to submit an electronic deposit copy, in addition to the “best edition,” when filing an electronic application so that registration specialists may continue to examine and register applications remotely. While a convenient option, the submission of an electronic deposit copy in addition to the “best edition” is not required. If you cannot, or prefer not to, submit an electronic deposit, the application will be examined once the Copyright Office re-opens and a registration specialist can review the physical deposit copy in person.

If you choose to take advantage of the electronic filing option, two documents should be submitted with the electronic application: the electronic deposit copy and a signed Declaration Form. The Declaration Form verifies that the electronic deposit copy is identical to the physical copy of the work. This form must be signed by the applicant or the applicant’s authorized agent or representative and can be found here: https://www.copyright.gov/coronavirus/declaration-form.pdf. Keep in mind that downloads must adhere to file formats accepted by the USCO and cannot exceed 500 MB in size for each file. An overview of acceptable file formats may be found on the USCO website located at https://www.copyright.gov/eco/help-file-types.html.

The electronic deposit copy and Declaration Form are uploaded after the application is completed and payment is submitted. The Copyright Office will send an email confirming that the upload was successful. The “best edition” deposit copy and completed shipping slip should be mailed to the Copyright Office within three days of uploading the electronic deposit copy.

During these unprecedented times, it has been encouraging to see ways people are adjusting to the situation. The Copyright Office has created an easy and convenient way to ensure that the copyright registration process will continue in a timely manner despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

For further general information regarding the Copyright Office and coronavirus, please follow this link: https://www.copyright.gov/coronavirus/.

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