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

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1904.1 Applicant Makes the Determination


1904.1 Applicant Makes the Determination


The applicant–not the U.S. Copyright Office–must determine whether a work is published or unpublished.


The U.S. Copyright Act is the exclusive source of copyright protection in the United States, and all applicants – both foreign and domestic – must demonstrate that a work satisfies the requirements of U.S. copyright law to register a work with the Office.


Determining whether a work is published or unpublished should be based on U.S. copyright law under Title 17, and it should be based on the facts that exist at the time the application is filed with the Office, even if the work was created in a foreign country, first published in a foreign country, or created by a citizen, domiciliary, or habitual resident of a foreign country.


Upon request, the Office will provide the applicant with general information about the provisions of the Copyright Act, including the statutory definition of publication, and will explain the relevant practices and procedures for registering a published or unpublished work with the Office. The Office will not give specific legal advice on whether a particular work has or has not been published. However, if an assertion is clearly contrary to facts known by the Office, a claim may be questioned, or in certain situations, refused.


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