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

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205 Privacy


205 Privacy

The applicant should not provide any private or confidential information in the application that is not required for registration. All of the information that the applicant provides in the application is a permanent part of the public record, and the U.S. Copyright Office generally cannot remove any information from the public record once a registration has been issued.


Section 705 (A) of the Copyright Act requires the Register of Copyrights to prepare and maintain “records of deposits, registrations, recordations, and other actions” taken by the Office. 17 U.S.C. § 705 (A). Section 705 (B) states that all records maintained by the Office in connection with a completed copyright registration “shall be open to public inspection.” 17 U.S.C. § 705 (B).


With regard to copyright registrations, the Office requests and receives personally identifiable information (“PII”), such as birth dates, addresses, and telephone numbers. The collection of certain types of PII is mandated by statute or regulation, while other requested information is optional for the applicant to provide. See 17 U.S.C. § 409. Both types of information are collectively referred to as “Requested PII.”


The Office will make information provided in a copyright application available to the general public upon request, and much of this information will be available on the Internet through the Office’s online database. For an example of the type of information that is typically displayed in the Office’s online database, see the privacy page on the Office’s website.


The Office does not request, but sometimes receives, additional PII, such as driver’s license, social security, and credit card numbers. This type of information is unnecessary for copyright registration and is referred to in the Office’s regulations as “extraneous PII.” See 37 C.F.R. § 201.2 (F).


Applicants should not provide extraneous PII in an application. To protect the privacy of applicants, the Office may remove this type of information from an application during the examination process on its own initiative. If extraneous PII is included within the Office’s public records, an author or claimant may request removal of this information in accordance with the Office’s regulations. There is no fee for this service. See id.


Additionally, applicants should not provide any other type of private or confidential information in the application that is not required for registration, because it may also be included in the Office’s online and offline public records.


Before submitting an application, an applicant should consider whether to include a nickname, alias, or other personal information that is not required for registration. For example, providing the name, address, telephone number, and email address of the person who should be contacted for permission to use the work is optional, and the Office will accept an application even if an applicant leaves the Rights and Permissions section blank. Although an applicant is encouraged to provide contact information for rights and permission purposes, it is important to understand that if the applicant completes this portion of the application, the Office will include this information in the online database.


If an applicant wants to provide contact information for persons who may be interested in using the work – but does not want to provide a home address or other personal information – the applicant should consider providing the name of a designated agent, a P.O. Box, or a designated email address in the Rights and Permissions field of the application.


Modification of the information in the Office’s online public record (but not its offline public record) is available where the author or claimant submits a written request to remove or replace non-personally identifiable information for certain types of Requested PII (such as replacing a home address with a P.O. Box number), and pays the appropriate fee for this service. See 37 C.F.R §§ 201.1 (C) (8), 201.2 (E). For more information on this procedure, see Chapter 1800, Section 1805.


See generally Removal of Personally Identifiable Information From Registration Records, 82 Fed. Reg. 9004 (Feb. 2, 2017).


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