Copyright Compendium

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Chapter 2100
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510.2 Naming the Author as the Copyright Claimant

510.2 Naming the Author as the Copyright Claimant


An author may seek a registration naming himself or herself as the copyright claimant, even if the Office previously issued a registration that named a different individual or legal entity as the claimant for that work. See 37 C.F.R. § 202.3 (B) (11)(ii). Likewise, a joint author may seek a registration naming himself or herself as the claimant, even if the joint work was previously registered by or on behalf of the other authors. See id. n.2. When completing the application, the applicant should provide the registration number for the previous registration using the procedure described in Chapter 600, Section 621.8 (F).


In some cases, the author of a collective work may register that work without identifying the authors of the component works contained therein. The author of a component work may register that work in his or her own name in this situation, even if the Office previously registered the component work together with the collective work as a whole.


Allowing an author to register a work in his or her own name is consistent “with the fundamental thrust of the [Copyright Act of 1976] in identifying copyright, and the origin of all rights comprised in a copyright, with the author.” Applications for Registration of Claim to Copyright Under Revised Copyright Act, 42 Fed. Reg. 48,944, 48,946 (Sept. 26, 1977). This may be useful where the author retains a reversionary interest in a contribution to a collective work and wants “to reflect his or her retained or continued legal or beneficial ownership of certain rights” in the copyright after it has been transferred to another party. Id. at 48,945.


This exception does not apply in cases where a third party previously registered the work and named the author as the copyright claimant.


This exception does not apply in cases involving a work made for hire. If the Office issued a registration that named the employer or other hiring party as the copyright claimant, the individual who actually created the work cannot obtain another registration in his or her own name unless the applicant is asserting an adverse claim. 37 C.F.R. § 202.3 (B) (11)(ii) n.2. For information concerning adverse claims, see Section 510.3.


Likewise, this exception does not apply if the work was registered before January 1, 1978. If the work was registered before that date and if another party was named as the copyright claimant, the Office will not issue another registration naming the author as the claimant. For more information on this issue, see Chapter 2100, Section 2130, 2131, and 2134.

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