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

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1509.1 (F) (1) Source Code


1509.1 (F) (1) Source Code


The applicant may be required to submit the entire source code for the computer program, or the applicant may submit representative portions of the source code. See 37 C.F.R. § 202.20 (C) (2)(vii). The amount of source code that is required varies depending on the length of the code, whether the work is a derivative computer program, and whether the code contains trade secret material. These issues are discussed in Sections 1509.1 (F) (2) through 1509.1 (F) (4) below.


The source code should be submitted either on paper or in an electronic file in a form that is perceptible to the human eye without the aid of a machine or device. See 37 C.F.R. § 202.20 (C) (2)(vii). In all cases, applicants should add the title and version number of the program to the first page of the code. This helps the Registration Program determine whether the version described in the application matches the version shown in the identifying material. To help staff determine whether a sufficient amount of code has been submitted, applicants may insert page numbers on each page of source code where applicable.


The applicant does not need to provide the total number of lines of source code that appear in the program. However, if there are inconsistencies in the identifying material, such as missing page numbers or gaps between the line numbers for the source code, a member of the Registration Program may communicate with the applicant to determine whether the deposit is complete.


See H.R. REP. NO. 94-1476, at 153 (1976), reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. 5659, 5769 (authorizing the Register of Copyrights to “allow or require deposit of print-outs of computer programs under certain circumstances”); see also Registration of Claims to Copyright Deposit Requirements for Computer Programs Containing Trade Secrets and for Computer Screen Displays, 54 Fed. Reg. 13,173, 13,174-75 (Mar. 31, 1989).


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