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

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615.1 (A) What Is an Anonymous Work?

615.1 (A) What Is an Anonymous 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. If the author’s name appears on the copies or phonorecords, the work is not an anonymous work, even if the author does not wish to reveal his or her identity in the registration record. In such cases, the applicant should provide the author’s real name in the application and the Anonymous box should not be checked. Likewise, a work does not qualify as an anonymous work based solely on the fact that the applicant cannot identify the person or persons who created the work.

The statute implies that anonymous works are limited to works created by natural persons. Compare id. (defining an “anonymous work” as “a work on the copies or phonorecords of which no natural person is identified as author”) with 17 U.S.C. § 302 (C) (indicating that the term for an anonymous work may be based on the life of the author if his or her identity is revealed before the copyright expires). Therefore, the applicant should check the Anonymous box only if the author is a human being. If the author is a corporation, limited liability company, partnership, or other legal entity, the author’s full name should be provided in the Name of Author field/space. If the applicant checks the Anonymous box or asserts that the author wishes to remain anonymous, the application may be questioned if the author appears to be a legal entity.

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