Compendium of U.S. Copyright Practices, 3rd Edition

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1009.4 (B) Nation of First Publication

1009.4 (B) Nation of First Publication

If the applicant determines that the work has been published, the applicant must identify the nation of first publication. The Office may use this information to determine if the work is eligible for protection under U.S. copyright law.

When completing an online application the applicant should identify the country where the work was first published by selecting one of the countries listed in the drop down menu marked Nation of first publication. When completing a paper application, the application should provide this information on space 3 (B) next to the heading marked Nation. For guidance in completing this portion of the application, see Chapter 600, Section 612.

As a general rule, the nation of first publication is the country where copies or phonorecords of the work were first published with the authorization of the copyright owner. This determination may be difficult when the applicant intends to register a website or website content, because the law in this area is unsettled. If the website was directed at users in a particular country (e.g., a website written entirely in Danish with a domain name ending in the suffix .dk), that country could be deemed the nation of first publication for purposes of copyright registration. The location of the server where the work resides and/or the scope of the intended audience may also be relevant to this issue.

Upon request, the Office will provide the applicant with general information about the Copyright Act and the legislative history for the statute, including the statutory definition of publication and the provisions concerning nation of publication. However, the Office will not give specific legal advice on whether a work has or has not been published within a particular country. Instead, the Office leaves this determination to the applicant and the courts, because they are in a better position to assess the complete facts in any particular situation.

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