1802.7 (C) Publication Issues
If the work was unpublished when the application for the basic registration was submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office and then published sometime thereafter, the date of publication cannot be added to the registration record with a supplementary registration. Instead, the applicant should submit a new application for a new basic registration for the first published edition of that work (even if the published version “is substantially the same as the unpublished version”). See 17 U.S.C. § 408 (E); 37 C.F.R. § 202.3 (B) (11) (I).
Ordinarily, if the work was published on or before the date that the claim was filed with the Office, and if the applicant mistakenly claimed that the work was unpublished as of that date, the date of publication cannot be added to the registration record with a supplementary registration. Instead, the applicant should submit a new application for a new basic registration using the procedure described in Section 1803 (subject to the limited exception discussed below).
These types of publication issues cannot be corrected with a supplementary registration unless the deposit requirement for a published work and an unpublished work are the same. As a general rule, the applicant must submit two complete copies of the best edition if the work was published on or after January 1, 1978, but only one complete copy is required for an unpublished work. See Chapter 1500, Sections 1505.1 and 1505.2. By contrast, if an unpublished work was erroneously registered as a published work, the date of publication may be corrected with a supplementary registration, because the deposit copies for a published work usually satisfy the deposit requirement for an unpublished work. See Section 1802.6 (I).
There are limited exceptions to this rule. If a published work was erroneously registered as an unpublished work, the date of publication may be added to the registration record with a supplementary registration, provided that (I) the work was published on or after March 1, 1989, and (ii) the deposit requirement for that type of work would be the same regardless of whether the work was published or unpublished, such as architectural blueprints, mechanical drawings, globes, greetings cards, postcards, commercial prints and labels, as well as computer programs, databases, or other types of works that may be registered with identifying material.
A date of publication cannot be added to the registration record for an unpublished collection or a group of unpublished works. And as discussed in Section 1802.4, an unpublished collection or group registration cannot be transformed into a registration for a single published work. But it may be possible to exclude a published work from a prior registration, and then submit a new application, deposit, and filing fee for that work.