614.1 (E) Registering a Work Made for Hire as an Anonymous or Pseudonymous Work
A work is considered an “anonymous work” if “no natural person is identified as author” on the copies or phonorecords of the work. 17 U.S.C. § 101. A work is considered a “pseudonymous work” if “the author is identified under a fictitious name” on the copies or phonorecords of the work. Id. If the author’s name appears on the copies or phonorecords, the work is not an anonymous or pseudonymous work, even if the author does not wish to reveal his or her identity in the registration record.
The statute implies that anonymous works and pseudonymous works are limited to works created by natural persons. Compare id. (definitions of “anonymous” and “pseudonymous” works) with 17 U.S.C. § 302 (C) (indicating that the term for anonymous and pseudonymous works may be based on the life of the author if his or her identity is revealed before the copyright expires). If the applicant checks the box indicating that the work is a work made for hire and checks the box marked Anonymous or Pseudonymous and/or leaves the Name of Author field/space blank, the registration specialist may communicate with the applicant. In such cases, the specialist will explain that a work made for hire cannot be registered as an anonymous or pseudonymous work and that the author’s full name should be provided in the registration record.
• An application is submitted for a “tell all” book about a famous celebrity. Both the application and the deposit copies state that the author of this work is “Anonymous.” The Tattletale Press, LLC is named as the copyright claimant. The work made for hire box is checked “yes” and no transfer statement has been provided. The registration specialist may communicate with the applicant, and explain that if the work is actually a work made for hire it cannot be registered as an anonymous work. In this case, the specialist will ask authorization to give the author’s full name in the registration record and answer “no” to the anonymous question. By contrast, if the work made for hire question was answered “yes” by mistake and the work truly is anonymous (i.e., not a work made for hire and no natural person is named on the deposit copies), then the specialist will request authorization to answer “no” to the work made for hire question, and to add a transfer statement to the registration record.
• An online application is submitted for a photograph and names Global Icons as the author and claimant for the work. The pseudonymous question is answered “yes.” In the Pseudonym field, the applicant entered the name “Photograph My World.” The registration specialist may communicate with the applicant to explain that a work authored by a company or other legal entity cannot be registered as pseudonymous. If it is determined that the company uses both names (Global Icons and Photograph My World), the specialist also may request that the relationship between the names be identified in the registration record using terms such as: “Global Icons doing business as Photograph My World” or “Global Icons also known as Photograph My World.”
For a general discussion of anonymous and pseudonymous works, see Section 615.