Copyright Compendium

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Chapter 1700
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Chapter 2400

608 Refusal to Register

608 Refusal to Register

In the event the U.S. Copyright Office determines that the claim does not meet certain requirements for registration based on the registration materials submitted, the registration specialist will refuse to register the work. A refusal to register the entire work will be made in a written communication signed or initialed by the registration specialist or supervisor assigned to the claim. The communication will be mailed to the address provided in the Correspondent field/space of the application. Examples of situations where the Office will refuse to register a claim include:

• The applicant has not met the legal or formal requirements for registration (e.g., completed application, complete filing fee, complete deposit copy(ies), etc.).

• The applicant has asserted a claim to copyright in a type of work that is not covered by U.S. copyright law. See, e.g., 17 U.S.C. §§ 102 (A), 102 (B), 105.

• The work is not fixed in a tangible medium of expression.

• The work lacks human authorship.

• The work was not independently created.

• The work does not contain the minimum level of creative authorship to support a copyright claim.

• The work is in the public domain.

• The work is a U.S. sound recording that was fixed before February 15, 1972 (i.e., the date U.S. sound recordings became eligible for federal copyright protection).

• NOTE: The Orrin G. Hatch – ” Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (“MMA”) provides owners of pre-1972 sound recordings with certain protections and remedies for copyright infringement if their recordings are used without authorization. To exercise these remedies, owners typically must file schedules with the U.S. Copyright Office listing their sound recordings and specifying the name of the rights owner, title, and featured artist for each recording. 17 U.S.C. § 1401 (F) (5) (A). Additional information concerning the MMA and instructions on how to file a schedule is available on the Office’s website.

• The work is an architectural work created before December 1, 1990 (i.e., the date architectural works became eligible for federal copyright protection) or the application to register the architectural work does not otherwise meet the requirements set forth in Copyright Office regulations. See 37 C.F.R. § 202.11.

• The work is not eligible for copyright protection in the United States based on the author’s citizenship or domicile, based on the nation of first publication, or any other factor set forth in Section 104 of the Copyright Act.

• The work does not meet the eligibility requirements for a particular registration option.

• The applicant is not authorized to register a claim in the work.

• The claimant named in the application is not a proper copyright claimant.

• The work unlawfully employs preexisting material that is under copyright protection. 17 U.S.C. § 103 (A).

If the applicant disagrees with the Office’s determination, the applicant may appeal that decision within the Office. This is an administrative procedure known as a request for reconsideration. For information concerning this procedure, see Chapter 1700.