2406.3 Limitations on Information Available for Searches
Searches conducted by RRCS are not necessarily conclusive, and members of the public should not assume that a work is protected by copyright or in the public domain based on the information or the lack of information in the Office’s records. Information concerning a particular work may be incomplete or nonexistent for many reasons, including the following:
• The information provided in the search request may not be complete or specific enough to identify the work.
• The work may be registered under a different title or as a part of a larger work.
• A work may or may not be registered as of the date that the search is conducted, because registration is optional for works created or first published on or after January 1, 1978, and registration for such works may be made at any time during the term of the copyright.
• An unpublished work created before January 1, 1978 may or may not be registered as of the date that the search is conducted, because unpublished works were protected under the common law without the need for registration prior to January 1, 1978.
• A registration for a pre-1978 work may or may not be renewed as of the date that the search is conducted. A work registered or first published with notice before January 1, 1964 had to be renewed with the U.S. Copyright Office to prevent the work from falling into the public domain. By contrast, this requirement does not apply to works registered or first published with notice between January 1, 1964 and December 31, 1977. (Works created or first published on or after January 1, 1978, do not have renewal terms.)
• A search may be limited to the information that appears in the Copyright Office’s Public Catalog. This database will not include recent registrations or recordations issued by the Office that have not been added to the database as of the date that the search is conducted. In some cases, members of the public may inspect or obtain copies of pending records or obtain limited information concerning such records, subject to the restrictions discussed in Sections 2407.1 (B) (3), 2407.1 (B) (4), 2407.1 (E) (1), 2407.2 (B) (2), and 2407.2 (E) (1) below.
• Recording a transfer of copyright ownership or other document pertaining to copyright is optional. As a result, documents concerning the ownership of a particular work may or may not be recorded with the Office as of the date that the search is conducted, or the records may be outdated or incomplete.
• The Office does not maintain lists of works that are in the public domain.
• In most cases, the Office’s records do not contain a separate title for a contribution to a collective work or a contribution to a database but only the title of the collective work or database as a whole.
• The Office does not maintain records related to trademarks and patents. For information concerning these types of records, visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website.