1603.4 The Work Must Be Unpublished
Preregistration protects unpublished works that are being prepared for commercial distribution. See 17 U.S.C. § 408 (F) (1). Therefore, the U.S. Copyright Office will not entertain an application for preregistration unless the work is unpublished as of the date that the application is submitted. The Copyright Act defines publication as “the distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending.” 17 U.S.C. § 101. In addition, “offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display, constitutes publication.” For example, a sound recording is considered published if it has been offered to a group of disc jockeys for purposes of public air play, and a motion picture is considered published if it has been delivered to a number of distributors for purposes of theatrical exhibition. See Preregistration of Certain Unpublished Copyright Claims, 70 Fed. Reg. 42,286, 42,287 (July 22, 2005).