2305 Overview of the Recordation Process
The U.S. Copyright Office has recorded assignments and other documents related to copyright since 1897. Although the Office has performed this function for more than 100 years, the recordation process is frequently misunderstood.
Typically, a party submits an original signed document or a legible reproduction of a signed document that has been certified to be a true copy of the original. The party that makes this submission is known as the “remitter.”
Upon request, the Office will provide a return receipt confirming that a transfer or other document pertaining to copyright has been received in the Office. For information concerning this procedure, see Section 2309.14 below.
A recordation specialist will examine the document to determine if it satisfies the requirements of the Copyright Act and the Office’s regulations and to determine if the correct filing fee has been paid. If the relevant requirements have been met, the document will be recorded and made a part of the Office’s public records.
The Office does not provide or require special forms for preparing a notice of termination, a transfer of ownership, or any other document pertaining to copyright. Any written document will be accepted for recordation if it is legible, if it contains an actual signature, and if it satisfies the other requirements set forth in Sections 2309 through 2314 below.
The Office offers a document cover sheet known as Form DCS, and encourages remitters to complete and submit this form together with the document when recording a transfer of ownership or other document pertaining to copyright. If a document contains 100 titles or more the remitter also may submit an electronic title list to facilitate the indexing of that document. For information concerning the benefits of using Form DCS or an electronic title list, see Sections 2309.12 (A) and 2309.13 below.
When a document is recorded, the Office will assign a unique identifying number to the document, such asV9920 D781. The letters “V” and “D” refer to the volume and document numbers that have been assigned to the document.
The Office will prepare a certificate of recordation bearing the date of recordation and the identifying number that has been assigned to that document. The certificate, the recorded document, and Form DCS (if it was submitted with the document) will be imaged and stored in the Office’s electronic recordation system. These images will be made available to the general public for inspection and copying upon request. See Chapter 2400, Section 2407.2. The Office then returns the original document to the remitter, along with the certificate of recordation.
The Office creates an online public record that contains pertinent information about the recorded document. These records are made available to the general public through the Office’s website. For a discussion of the online public record and the information that these records typically contain, see Section 2306 below.
Although the Office will record a document after it has been executed, it does not issue or enforce notices of termination, transfers of ownership, or other documents pertaining to copyright. The Office only serves as an office of public record for such documents. For this reason, a document that is submitted for recordation should not consist of a letter or other written communication addressed to the Register of Copyrights or the U.S. Copyright Office.
The fact that a document has been recorded is not a determination by the U.S. Copyright Office concerning the validity or the effect of that document. That determination can only be made by a court of law. As discussed above, the Office only examines documents to determine if they comply with the requirements of the Copyright Act and the Office’s regulations. The Office will not attempt to interpret the substantive content of any document that has been submitted for recordation. Likewise, the Office will not attempt to determine whether a document satisfies the legal requirements that may be necessary for it to be effective or enforced.
Members of the general public who submit documents for recordation cannot expect the Office to screen a document for even obvious errors or discrepancies. Therefore, parties are strongly advised to review and scrutinize any document to ensure that the document is legally sufficient to accomplish the purpose for which it is intended before it is submitted for recordation.
As discussed above, a recorded document will be made available to the general public upon request. Therefore, parties should be aware that if a recorded document contains private, confidential, or personally identifiable information that information will be accessible to any person who submits a request to inspect or copy that document.