United States Copyright Office

Last updated
United States Copyright Office
US-CopyrightOffice-Seal.svg
US-CopyrightOffice-Logo.svg
Agency overview
Formed1870;151 years ago (1870)
Jurisdiction Federal government of the United States
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Agency executive
Parent agency Library of Congress
Website copyright.gov
The James Madison Memorial Building, which houses the office MadisonBuildingLOC.JPG
The James Madison Memorial Building, which houses the office

The United States Copyright Office (sometimes abbreviated USCO), a part of the Library of Congress, is the official U.S. government body that maintains records of copyright registration in the United States including a Copyright Catalog. It is used by copyright title searchers who are attempting to clear a chain of title for copyrighted works.

Contents

The head of the Copyright Office is the Register of Copyrights. As of October 2020, the position is held by Shira Perlmutter, who took office October 26, 2020. [1]

The Copyright Office is housed on the fourth floor of the James Madison Memorial Building of the Library of Congress, at 101 Independence Avenue, SE, in Washington, DC. [2]

History

The United States Constitution gives Congress the power to enact laws establishing a system of copyright in the United States. The first federal copyright law, called the Copyright Act of 1790, was enacted in May 1790 (with the first work being registered within two weeks). Originally, claims were recorded by Clerks of U.S. district courts. In 1870, copyright functions were centralized in the Library of Congress under the direction of the then Librarian of Congress Ainsworth Rand Spofford. The Copyright Office became a separate department of the Library of Congress in 1897, and Thorvald Solberg was appointed the first Register of Copyrights. [3]

In the 1930s, the Copyright Office moved to new quarters in what is now the John Adams Building and in the 1970s it moved again, to its present quarters in the James Madison Memorial Building.

Functions

The mission of the Copyright Office is to promote creativity by administering and sustaining an effective national copyright system. While the purpose of the copyright system has always been to promote creativity in society, the functions of the Copyright Office have grown to include the following:

The Office examines all applications and deposits presented for registration of original and renewal copyright claims to determine their acceptability for registration under the provisions of the copyright law. The Office also records documents related to copyright ownership.

The Copyright Office records the bibliographic descriptions and the copyright facts of all works registered. The archives maintained by the Copyright Office are an important record of America's cultural and historical heritage. Containing nearly 45 million individual cards, the Copyright Card Catalog housed in the James Madison Memorial Building comprises an index to copyright registrations in the United States from 1870 through 1977. Records after 1977 are maintained through an online database of more than 16 million entries.

As a service unit of the Library of Congress, the Copyright Office is part of the legislative branch of government. The Office provides copyright policy advice to Congress. At the request of Congress, the Copyright Office advises and assists the Congress in the development of national and international copyright policy; drafts legislation; and prepares technical studies on copyright-related matters.

The Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices manual documents the Copyright Office's practices in its administration of copyright law.

A new fee schedule for certain Office services is effective as of May 1, 2014. [4] The Copyright office's fees were last updated in 2009. Fees increased for certain registration and recordation and associated services, as well as certain search and review services for FOIA requests Freedom of Information Act (United States) . In May 2014, the Office also reduced some renewal application and addendum fees in an effort to "encourage the filing of more renewal claims" and thereby help improve public records about copyright ownership. [5]

Providing information services to the public

This 2019 video from the Copyright Office explains the value of a public domain and why copyright matters. Public outreach is part of the mandate of the agency.

The Copyright Office provides public information and reference services concerning copyrights and recorded documents. The public can keep up on developments in the Copyright Office by subscribing to U.S. Copyright Office NewsNet, a free electronic mailing list that issues periodic email messages to alert subscribers to hearings, deadlines for comments, new and proposed regulations, new publications, and other copyright-related subjects of interest. Subscribe on the Copyright Office website.

Library of Congress

In 1870, Congress passed a law that centralized the copyright system in the Library of Congress. This law required all owners of copyrights of publicly distributed works to deposit in the Library two copies of every such work registered in the United States, whether it is a book, pamphlet, map, print, or piece of music. Supplying the information needs of the Congress, the Library of Congress has become the world's largest library and the de facto national library of the United States. This repository of more than 162 million books, photographs, maps, films, documents, sound recordings, computer programs, and other items has grown largely through the operations of the copyright system, which brings deposits of every copyrighted work into the Library. [6]

Duties

The Copyright Office consults with interested copyright owners, industry and library representatives, bar associations, and other interested parties on issues related to the copyright law.

The Copyright Office promotes improved copyright protection for U.S. creative works abroad through its International Copyright Institute. Created within the Copyright Office by Congress in 1988, the International Copyright Institute provides training for high-level officials from developing and newly industrialized countries and encourages development of effective intellectual property laws and enforcement overseas.

The website has information about new copyright relevant legislation and a list of designated agents under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act (OCILLA) and information about Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel (CARP) system of ad hoc copyright royalty arbitrators (now being phased out and replaced by the Copyright Royalty Board).

See also

Related Research Articles

Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to make copies of a creative work, usually for a limited time. The creative work may be in a literary, artistic, educational, or musical form. Copyright is intended to protect the original expression of an idea in the form of a creative work, but not the idea itself. A copyright is subject to limitations based on public interest considerations, such as the fair use doctrine in the United States.

A chain of title is the sequence of historical transfers of title to a property. It is a valuable tool to identify and document past owners of a property and serves as a property's historical ownership timeline. The "chain" runs from the present owner back to the original owner of the property. In situations where documentation of ownership is important, it is often necessary to reconstruct the chain of title. To facilitate this, a record of title documents may be maintained by a registry office or civil law notary.

Copyright Act of 1790

The Copyright Act of 1790 was the first federal copyright act to be instituted in the United States, though most of the states had passed various legislation securing copyrights in the years immediately following the Revolutionary War. The stated object of the act was the "encouragement of learning," and it achieved this by securing authors the "sole right and liberty of printing, reprinting, publishing and vending" the copies of their "maps, charts, and books" for a term of 14 years, with the right to renew for one additional 14-year term should the copyright holder still be alive.

Copyright Act of 1909

The Copyright Act of 1909 was a landmark statute in United States statutory copyright law. It became Pub.L. 60–349 on March 4, 1909 by the 60th United States Congress, and it went into effect on July 1, 1909. The Act was repealed and superseded by the Copyright Act of 1976, but it remains effective for copyrighted works created before the Copyright Act of 1976 went into effect on January 1, 1978. It allowed for works to be copyrighted for a period of 28 years from the date of publication but extended the preexisting renewal term of 14 years to 28 years, for a maximum of 56 years.

Copyright registration

The purpose of copyright registration is to place on record a verifiable account of the date and content of the work in question, so that in the event of a legal claim, or case of infringement or plagiarism, the copyright owner can produce a copy of the work from an official government source.

The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) is a U.S. system of three copyright royalty judges who determine rates and terms for copyright statutory licenses and make determinations on distribution of statutory license royalties collected by the U.S. Copyright Office of the Library of Congress. The board, made up of three permanent copyright royalty judges, was created under the Copyright Royalty and Distribution Reform Act of 2004, which became effective on May 31, 2005, when the Copyright Arbitration Royalty Panel system was phased out. These administrative judges are appointed by the Librarian of Congress.

The Ralph J. Bunche Library, formerly the State Department Library, is the oldest federal government library in the United States. The library is currently located in room 3239 of the Harry S Truman Building.

Copyright Renewal Act of 1992, Pub.L. 102–307, 106 Stat. 264, enacted June 26, 1992, is the first title of the Copyright Amendments Act of 1992, an act of the United States Congress that amended copyright renewal provisions of Title 17 of the United States Code enacted under Copyright Act of 1976. The act eliminated the previous requirements under US law that a second term of copyright protection is contingent on a renewal registration with the U.S. Copyright Office. It amended the Copyright Act of 1976.

Trademark Trade identifier of products or services

A trademark is a type of intellectual property consisting of a recognizable sign, design, or expression which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others, although trademarks used to identify services are usually called service marks. The trademark owner can be an individual, business organization, or any legal entity. A trademark may be located on a package, a label, a voucher, or on the product itself. For the sake of corporate identity, trademarks are often displayed on company buildings. It is legally recognized as a type of intellectual property.

Copyright Act of 1976

The Copyright Act of 1976 is a United States copyright law and remains the primary basis of copyright law in the United States, as amended by several later enacted copyright provisions. The Act spells out the basic rights of copyright holders, codified the doctrine of "fair use," and for most new copyrights adopted a unitary term based on the date of the author's death rather than the prior scheme of fixed initial and renewal terms. It became Public Law number 94-553 on October 19, 1976 and went into effect on January 1, 1978.

The copyright law of the United States grants monopoly protection for "original works of authorship". With the stated purpose to promote art and culture, copyright law assigns a set of exclusive rights to authors: to make and sell copies of their works, to create derivative works, and to perform or display their works publicly. These exclusive rights are subject to a time limit, and generally expire 70 years after the author's death. In the United States, any work published before January 1, 1926, is generally considered public domain.

Library of Congress (de facto) national library of the United States of America

The Library of Congress (LC) is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is the de facto national library of the United States. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. The library is housed in three buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.; it also maintains a conservation center in Culpeper, Virginia. The library's functions are overseen by the librarian of Congress, and its buildings are maintained by the architect of the Capitol. The Library of Congress is one of the largest libraries in the world. Its "collections are universal, not limited by subject, format, or national boundary, and include research materials from all parts of the world and in more than 450 languages."

United States copyright registrations, renewals, and other catalog entries since 1978 are published online at the U.S. Copyright Office website. Entries prior to 1978 are not published in the Online Catalog. Copyright registrations and renewals after 1890 were formerly published in semi-annual softcover catalogs called The Catalog of Copyright Entries or Copyright Catalog or published in microfiche.

Thorvald Solberg First Registrar of Copyrights (1852-1949(

Thorvald Solberg was the first Register of Copyrights (1897–1930) in the United States Copyright Office. He was a noted authority on copyright and played an instrumental role in shaping the Copyright Act of 1909.

Barbara Ringer

Barbara Ringer was one of the lead architects of the 1976 Copyright Act. She spent much of her career lobbying Congress and drafting legislation that overhauled the 1909 Copyright Act. Ringer was also the first woman to serve as the Register of Copyrights in the United States Copyright Office. During her three decades with the United States Copyright Office, Ringer gained a reputation as an authority on copyright law.

Public domain in the United States Status of public domain in the USA

Works are in the public domain if they are not covered by intellectual property rights at all, or if the intellectual property rights to the works have expired.

The copyright status of works produced by the governments of states, territories, and municipalities in the United States varies. Copyright law is federal in the United States. Federal law expressly denies U.S. copyright protection to two types of government works: works of the U.S. federal government itself, and all edicts of any government regardless of level or whether or not foreign. Other than addressing these "edicts of government", U.S. federal law does not address copyrights of U.S. state and local government.

Copyright formalities are legal requirements needed to obtain a copyright in a particular jurisdiction. Common copyright formalities include copyright registration, copyright renewal, copyright notice, and copyright deposit.

The copyright law of the United States has a long and complicated history, dating back to colonial times. It was established as federal law with the Copyright Act of 1790. This act was updated many times, including a major revision in 1976.

References

  1. "U.S. Copyright Office Welcomes New Register". Copyright Office NewsNet (857). U.S. Copyright Office. October 26, 2020. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  2. "Contact Information." United States Copyright Office. Retrieved on October 20, 2012. "James Madison Memorial Building. The U.S. Copyright Office is located on the 4th floor."
  3. U.S. Copyright Office Circular 1a, United States Copyright Office: A Brief Introduction and History
  4. "Fees for Copyright Registration, Recordation, and Other Services". U.S. Copyright Office. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  5. Jacobson, Julia; McDermott Will & Emery (April 29, 2014). "Copyright Office Fees". The National Law Review . Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  6. "General Information". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2 December 2016.