Copyright Compendium

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Chapter 700
Chapter 800
Chapter 900
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Chapter 2100
Chapter 2200
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Chapter 2400

1111.7(K) Anonymous and Pseudonymous Works

 

1111.7(K) Anonymous and Pseudonymous Works

 

A work is “anonymous” if the author is not identified on the copies of that work. A work is “pseudonymous” if the author is identified on the copies solely by a fictitious name, pen name, or other pseudonym. If the author’s real name appears on the copies, the work is neither anonymous nor pseudonymous, even if the author does not want to reveal his or her identity in the registration record.

 

If the author’s name does not appear on any of the works – ” and if the author does not want to reveal his or her identity in the registration record – ” the applicant should check the box indicating that the works were created anonymously. The fields for the Author’s “First Name” and “Last Name” should be left blank.

 

If the author’s pseudonym appears on all of the works and the author’s legal name does not appear on any of the works– ” and if the author does not want to reveal his or her identity in the registration record – ” the applicant should check the box indicating that the works are pseudonymous, and should provide the author’s pseudonym in the field marked “Pseudonym.”

 

Ordinarily, the copyright for an anonymous or pseudonymous work endures for a term of 95 years from the year of publication or 120 years from the year of creation, whichever expires first. 17 U.S.C. § 302 (C). However, if the author’s real name or identity is revealed in the registration record, the copyright will endure until 70 years after the author’s death. Id.; see also H.R. REP. NO. 94-1476, at 137 (1976), reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. 5659, 5753.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: If the author does not want to reveal his or her identity in the registration record, the applicant should not include the author’s real name anywhere in the application, including the Author/Claimant, Correspondent, Mail Certificate, and Certification screens. If the author’s real name is included in the application it will become part of the public record, and it cannot be removed once the U.S. Copyright Office has issued a registration.

 

If the author wants to reveal his or her identity in the registration record, the applicant should provide the author’s legal name in the “First Name/Last Name” fields.

 

If some – ” but not all – ” of the works are anonymous or pseudonymous, the applicant may register all of the works with the same application. But to do so, the author must disclose his or her identity in the registration record. For example, if the author wrote 10 short stories, and if her real name appears on two of those stories, she may register all of them with the same application. But the author would have to include her real name in the registration record for all 10 stories.

 

For additional information concerning anonymous and pseudonymous works, see Chapter 600, Section 615.