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

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Chapter 100
Chapter 200
Chapter 300
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315 Obscenity


315 Obscenity


Pornographic works may be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, provided that they contain a sufficient amount of original authorship.


As a general rule, a registration specialist will not examine a work or authorship to determine whether it contains material that might be considered obscene. See Mitchell Brothers Film Group v. Cinema Adult Theater, 604 F.2d 852, 858 (5th Cir. 1979) (concluding that the 1909 Act protects “all creative works, obscene or non-obscene, that otherwise meet the requirements of the [statute]” and that there is “no explicit or implicit bar to the copyrighting of obscene materials”). However, if a work contains material that appears to fall within the scope of the Child Protection Act, the specialist will refer the work to the Associate Register of Copyrights and Director of Registration Policy & Practice. If the Associate Register determines that the work clearly falls within the scope of Title 18, Sections 2251-2255, and if the Register of Copyrights concurs, the application, deposit copy(ies), and any other materials that have been submitted to the Office will be referred to the U.S. Department of Justice. See Operating Guidelines Regarding the Child Protection Act; Public Availability, 52 Fed. Reg. 10,177 (Mar. 30, 1987).


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