618.1 Asserting a Claim to Copyright
To register a work of authorship the applicant must file an application that clearly identifies the copyrightable authorship that the applicant intends to register, and the applicant must assert a claim to copyright in that authorship. The information provided in the application defines the claim that is being registered, rather than the information provided in the deposit copy(ies) or elsewhere in the registration materials.
When completing an online application, the applicant should identify the copyrightable authorship that the applicant intends to register on the Authors screen in the field marked Author Created. When completing a paper application, the applicant should provide this information on space 2 of the application under the heading Nature of Authorship. For guidance on completing this portion of the application, see Section 618.4.
The U.S. Copyright Office registers claims to copyright in works of authorship. As a general rule, the Office will issue one registration for each work that is submitted for registration. The registration specialist may examine the individual elements or components of a work to determine if the work as a whole contains a sufficient amount of creative expression to warrant registration. However, the Office will not issue separate registrations for the constituent elements or components of a work of authorship. Likewise, the Office will not issue separate registrations to each author who contributed copyrightable expression to a work of authorship (except as contributions to a collective work or derivative works).
As a general rule, the specialist will register a claim to copyright if the claim is clearly supported by the information provided in the application and the deposit copy(ies), and if the other formal and legal requirements have been met. If the Author Created field or the Nature of Authorship space is completed incorrectly, the registration specialist may register the claim with an annotation if the specialist determines that the claim is clear from the registration materials as a whole. As a general rule, the registration specialist will communicate with the applicant if the claim is unclear and if the issue cannot be addressed with an annotation.
The information provided in the Author Created field or the Nature of Authorship space will appear on the certificate of registration in a space marked Author Created and in the online public record in the field marked Authorship (regardless of whether the applicant submits an online application or a paper application).
See Corrections and Amplifications of Copyright Registrations; Applications for Supplementary Registration, 63 Fed. Reg. 59,235 (Nov. 3, 1998) (“The Copyright Office follows the general policy of requiring all authors and copyright claimants to supply information, consistent with 17 U.S.C. § 409, concerning the authorship being claimed in the application for registration.”).