Copyright Compendium

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503.3 What Type of Authorship Did the Author Create?

503.3 What Type of Authorship Did the Author Create?


The applicant should identify the copyrightable authorship that the author or co- authors contributed to the work.


The U.S. Copyright Office only examines the authorship that is explicitly claimed in the application. It does not examine any authorship that is not claimed in the application, and therefore, no prima facie presumption should apply to unclaimed authorship that appears in the work.


A copyrightable work may contain one or more types of authorship, but as discussed in Section 503.4, a registration only covers the authorship that is owned by the claimant or co-claimants who are named in the application. In some cases, the applicant may intend and may be entitled to register all of the authorship that appears in the work, while in other cases the applicant may intend or may be entitled to register only certain aspects of the work.


The following chart provides a representative example of a work that contains multiple types of authorship.


Work of Authorship

Authorship Created by Author A

Authorship Created by Author B

Song

Music

Lyrics


In this example, the song contains two types of authorship created by two different authors. If the claimant only owns the copyright in the music, the applicant should assert a claim in “music” and should name Author A in the application (but not Author B).


If the claimant only owns the copyright in the lyrics, the applicant should assert a claim

in “lyrics” and should name Author B in the application (but not Author A).


By contrast, if the claimant owns the copyright in the music and lyrics, the applicant should assert a claim in both elements and should name Authors A and B in the application.

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