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

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503.5 Does the Work Contain Unclaimable Material?


503.5 Does the Work Contain Unclaimable Material?


A copyright registration covers the new expression that the author created and contributed to the work, but it does not cover any unclaimable material that the work may contain. For purposes of registration, unclaimable material includes the following:


• Previously published material.


• Previously registered material (including material that has been submitted for registration but has not been registered yet).


• Material that is in the public domain.


• Copyrightable material that is owned by a third party (i.e., an individual or legal entity other than the claimant who is named in the application).


For a definition and discussion of each type of unclaimable material, see Chapter 600, Sections 621.4 through 621.7.


If the work submitted for registration contains unclaimable material, the applicant should exclude that material from the claim by providing a brief description in the Material Excluded field in the online application or in space 6 (A) of the paper application. However, the applicant does not need to complete this portion of the application if the work merely contains material that is uncopyrightable, such as words, letters, numbers, common symbols and shapes, and the like. Similarly, brief quotes, short phrases, and other de minimis uses of prior works do not need to be excluded from the claim.


For representative examples of works that contain unclaimable material, see Sections 503.5 (A) through 503.5 (D) below. For guidance in completing the Material Excluded field and space 6 (A) of the application, see Chapter 600, Sections 621.4 through 621.6, and Section 621.8 (B).


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