Copyright Compendium

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1802.9 (G) Adverse Claims / Actual or Prospective Litigation

 

1802.9 (G) Adverse Claims / Actual or Prospective Litigation

 

If the U.S. Copyright Office is aware that there is actual or prospective litigation or an adverse claim involving a basic registration, the Office may decline to issue a supplementary registration until the applicant has confirmed in writing that the dispute has been resolved. For example, the Office may decline to issue a supplementary registration if it seems likely that the proposed change would be directly at issue in the litigation or the adverse claim. Similarly, the Office may decline to issue a supplementary registration if it seems likely that the proposed change, correction, or amplification may confuse or complicate the pending dispute.

 

Example:

 

• Michelle Peck registered an online video, naming herself as the author and copyright claimant. Mark Ferrell subsequently registered the same video, naming himself as the author and copyright claimant. Michelle submits an application for a supplementary registration stating that Mark’s name should be added to her registration as a co-author and co-claimant. In a cover letter, Michelle explains that the parties are involved in a lawsuit concerning the ownership of the copyright. The authorship and ownership of the work appear to be directly at issue in the litigation, and if the Office added Mark’s name to the registration record for Michelle’s registration it could upset the balance between the competing registrations. As a result, the Office may decline to issue a supplementary registration until the dispute has been resolved.

 

If the Office is aware that there is litigation or an adverse claim involving a basic registration, the Office may issue a supplementary registration if the applicant intends to make a minor change to that registration. Similarly, the Office may issue a supplementary registration if the proposed change does not appear to be directly at issue in the dispute. Examples of minor changes or changes that are not likely to be at issue in a legal dispute include spelling mistakes, clerical errors, or changes to the title of the work.

 

Example:

 

• Olga Jensen registered a song titled “My Daddy Hated Those Crutches,” naming herself as the author and copyright claimant. Olga submits an application for supplementary registration stating that the title of the work should be changed to “My Daddy Never Needed Those Crutches.” In the cover letter Olga explains that she intends to sue a radio station for playing this song without permission. Although there is prospective litigation involving this song, the registration specialist may issue the supplementary registration because it appears that the title of the work has changed since the registration was made.

 

For a general discussion of adverse claims, see Section 1808.