Copyright Compendium

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615.2 (A) What Is a Pseudonymous Work?

 

615.2 (A) What Is a Pseudonymous Work?

 

A work is considered a pseudonymous work if “the author is identified under a fictitious name” on the copies or phonorecords of the work. 17 U.S.C. § 101.

 

The statute implies that pseudonymous works are limited to works created by an individual. Compare id. (definition of “pseudonymous work”) with 17 U.S.C. § 302 (C) (indicating that the term for a pseudonymous 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 Pseudonymous 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 Pseudonymous box, the application may be questioned if the author appears to be a legal entity.

 

A pseudonym must be a name. The U.S. Copyright Office will not accept a number or symbol as a pseudonym.

 

The name of a performing group is not a pseudonym and should not be provided in the Name of Author field/space. Instead, applicants should provide the names of the individuals who created or performed the work described in the application, even if the copies or phonorecords of the work indicate that the work was created or performed by a performing group as a whole. Providing the names of the individual members of the performing group creates a clear record of authorship, given that the members of the performing group may change over time. For additional information concerning this issue, see Chapter 800, Section 802.8 (D) and 803.8 (C).

 

Similarly, the name of the author’s d.b.a. (“doing business as”) designation is not a pseudonym and should not be provided in the Name of Author field/space.

 

If the applicant would like to include the name of a performing group or the name of the author’s d.b.a. in the registration record, that name should be provided in the Note to Copyright Office field or in a cover letter. The registration specialist will add the name of the author’s performing group to the record as an index term. The specialist will include the name of the author’s d.b.a. on the certificate of registration and the online public record, and will add that name as an index term if it is likely that members of the public may use the d.b.a. to search for the author’s works.

 

Example:

 

• An application is submitted to register a musical work. The authors are named on the application as Jerobi Manor, Brett Chargon, and Alaina Kraft. The pseudonymous box has not been checked. In the Note to Copyright Office field the applicant states: “Jerobi, Brett, and Alaina are members of the performing group “Three Times the Charm.” The registration specialist will add the name “Three Times the Charm” to the record as an index term.