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  • Writer's pictureCassandra L. Wilkinson

U.S. Copyright Office Issues Public Draft of Compendium III

In August, the U.S. Copyright Office released a public draft of the third edition of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices. The Compendium is the administrative manual for the Register of Copyrights explaining the services of the Copyright Office, and serves as an internal guide to Copyright Office staff “regarding their statutory duties.” Compendium III also “provides expert guidance to copyright applicants, practitioners, scholars, the courts, and members of the general public regarding institutional practices and related principles of law —... for example, standards of copyrightability, joint authorship, work for hire, and termination of transfers—as well as routine questions involving fees, records retrieval, litigation documents, and other procedural matters.”
The Office’s announcement of the Compendium also explains that in the coming years, “the Copyright Office will introduce a number of public discussions regarding the application and deposit requirements for many digital works, including websites, software, photographs, e-books, audiovisual works, and musical works, many of which have multiple authors, multiple dates of creation, and multiple dates of publication. A key objective will be creating digital copyright records that are accurate, affordable, and as useful as possible when it comes to the identification of ownership and copyrighted works.” Although the Compendium does not have the force and effect of law, the publication “does explain the legal rationale and determinations of the U.S. Copyright Office, where applicable, including circumstances where there is no controlling judicial authority.”
As this is the Compendium’s third edition, the first two editions will continue to be relevant in specific circumstances. The first edition, Compendium I, “continues to be the controlling manual for registrations, renewals, and recordations issued by the Office prior to January 1, 1978, and for the registration requirements for works published before January 1, 1978 that were never registered for the original copyright term.” The second edition, Compendium II, continues to be the relevant administrative manual for registrations, renewals, and recordations issued by the Office between January 1, 1978 and the effective date of the Third Edition.”
You can access the full public draft here. Public comments on the readability, clarity, coverage, and usability of the Compendium III as well as observations regarding the Office’s practices can be submitted before it takes effect on or about December 15, 2014.
HJK attorneys are well versed on copyright law and how the changes may impact registering copyrights in the U.S. Please contact an HJK attorney should you have any questions about copyrights or the copyright registration process.
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