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

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1805.1 (A) Name Change Requests


1805.1 (A) Name Change Requests


Requests to substitute the name of an author or claimant with that person’s current legal name must be accompanied by a copy of the official documentation of the legal name change. 37 C.F.R. § 201.2 (E) (2)(iii).


In no case will the U.S. Copyright Office remove the name of an author or claimant from the online public record. Similarly, the Office will not replace the name of an author or claimant with a pseudonym. Id.


Under the Copyright Act, works by anonymous and pseudonymous authors have different terms of copyright protection than works by authors whose real name is revealed in the Office’s records. The term for works by anonymous and pseudonymous authors is 95 years following the year of first publication, or 120 years following the year of creation, whichever term expires first. The term for works by authors whose legal names are revealed in the Office’s records is the life of the author plus 70 years. 17 U.S.C. §§ 302 (A), 302 (C). In addition, the Act specifically contemplates that if the real name of the author of an anonymous or pseudonymous work is identified in the Office’s records during the term of protection, that work will receive a term of life plus 70 years. Id. § 302 (C). If the Office removed the author or claimant’s real name from the online public record, or replaced that name with a pseudonym, it would be contrary to the statutory scheme established by Congress and would likely create confusion regarding the term of copyright protection for the work. See Removal of Personally Identifiable Information From Registration Records, 81 Fed. Reg. 63,440, 63441-42 (Sept. 15, 2016).


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