Copyright Compendium

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619.13 (C) Identifying the Author of a Pseudonymous Work as the Copyright Claimant

619.13 (C) Identifying the Author of a Pseudonymous Work as the Copyright Claimant


If the author’s pseudonym appears on the copies or phonorecords of the work, then as mentioned above, the applicant is not required to provide his or her real name in the application. Instead, the applicant may provide the author’s pseudonym in the field marked Pseudonym, and may leave the Name of the Author field/space blank.


If the author and the copyright claimant are the same individual, the applicant may provide the author’s legal name in the Name of Claimant field/space. Alternatively, the applicant may provide the author’s legal name together with the author’s pseudonym in the Name of Claimant field/space, provided that the application clearly indicates which is the legal name and which is the pseudonym (e.g., “Samuel Clemens, whose pseudonym is Mark Twain”). Providing the claimant’s full legal name creates a clear record of ownership, and as discussed in Section 615.2 (B), it may extend or reduce the term of the copyright. See 17 U.S.C. § 302 (C).


If the author does not wish to provide his or her legal name anywhere in the application, the applicant may provide the author’s pseudonym in the Name of Claimant field/space, provided that the author checks the Pseudonymous box on the application and provided that the work meets the statutory definition of a pseudonymous work.


The statute states that the application shall include “the name . . . of the copyright claimant.” 17 U.S.C. §§ 409 (1), (3). But Congress also intended to give authors the ability to register their works under an assumed name. Allowing applicants to provide a fictitious name in the author field, while requiring them to disclose the author’s real name in the claimant field, would undermine that objective and discourage pseudonymous authors from registering their works with the Office.


For a detailed discussion of pseudonymous works, see Section 615.2.