Copyright Compendium

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619.13 (D) Identifying the Author of an Anonymous Work as the Copyright Claimant

619.13 (D) Identifying the Author of an Anonymous Work as the Copyright Claimant


If the author’s name does not appear on the copies or phonorecords of the work, then as mentioned above, the applicant is not required to provide the author’s name in the application. Instead, the applicant may leave the Name of the Author field/space blank and check the box marked “Anonymous.”


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. However, doing so creates a clear record of ownership, and as discussed in Section 615.1 (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 real name in the application, the applicant may state “anonymous” in the Name of Claimant field/space, provided that the author checks the Anonymous box on the application and provided that the work meets the statutory definition for an anonymous work.


Although the statute states that the application shall include “the name . . . of the copyright claimant,” Congress clearly intended to give authors the ability to register their works anonymously. 17 U.S.C. §§ 409 (1), (3). Allowing applicants to state “anonymous” in the author field, while requiring them to disclose the author’s real name in the claimant field, would undermine that objective and discourage anonymous authors from registering their works with the Office.


Examples:


• An online application is submitted for a comedy sketch The Errant Space Museum by Anonymous. The applicant checked the box indicating that this is an anonymous work and stated “Anonymous” in the Name of Author and Name of Claimant fields. The registration specialist will register the claim without communicating with the applicant.


• An online application is submitted for the children’s book The Aaron Spates Museum by Anonymous. The applicant checked the box indicating that this is an anonymous work and the Name of Author field has been left blank. The Name of Claimant identifies the claimant as “Natalie Whitcomb.” No transfer statement has been provided. The registration specialist will register the claim without communicating with the applicant, based on the assumption that Natalie Whitcomb is the author of this work, and that she intended to reveal her identity in the registration record.


For a detailed discussion of anonymous works, see Section 615.1.

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