Copyright Compendium

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2120 Computer Programs

2120 Computer Programs


The U.S. Copyright Office began to register claims in computer programs in 1964 as “books” in class A. Since 1978, claims in computer programs have been registered in class TX or PA.


To be registrable for the renewal term, a computer program must meet the following requirements:


• It was published in copies (i.e., reproductions of the program in a form perceptible or capable of being made perceptible to the human eye were distributed or made available to the public). If the computer program was not registered for the original term and it seems unlikely that it was actually distributed to the public in the form deposited, or it seems unlikely that it was actually published, the Office may inquire about publication and may require a brief explanation of the way in which the program was first made available to the public and the form in which the copies were published.


• The literary expression consists of sufficient creative authorship to support a claim to copyright.


• The published copies contained the statutory or U.C.C. notice for books. When a program was first published in the form of punched cards or magnetic tape, the work did not have “pages” so the requirement that the notice must appear in books either on the title page or the page immediately following could not be met. In such cases, the Office will take into consideration the nature of any intervening material in determining whether the location of the notice is acceptable. For more information, see COMPENDIUM (FIRST) Supplementary Practice No.35.