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

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621.2 Unclaimable Material That Need Not Be Excluded from the Application


621.2 Unclaimable Material That Need Not Be Excluded from the Application


If the applicant intends to register a work that contains a minimal amount of unclaimable material, the applicant need not identify or disclaim that material in the application. Unclaimable material should be disclaimed only if it represents an appreciable portion of the work as a whole. Likewise, if the work contains material that is uncopyrightable, such as facts or mere ideas, there is no need to exclude that material from the application.


Generally, applicants do not need to disclaim attributions, citations, or direct quotations, because in most cases it is obvious that this material was not created by the author of the work and is not owned by the copyright claimant. This may be indicated by the quotations marks themselves, or by blocks of text that have been indented and set aside from the rest of the text. It also may be indicated by attributions, citations, or other bibliographic references in the text, captions, footnotes, endnotes, bibliography, or the like.




• An application is submitted for a musical work titled Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You. The chorus contains the phrase, “Ask what you can do for your country,” which was taken from President Kennedy’s inaugural address. The New Material Included/Material Excluded fields may be left blank, because the copyright law does not protect short phrases or works of the United States Government. See 17 U.S.C. § 105, 37 C.F.R. § 202.1 (A).


• An online application is submitted for an essay. The applicant asserts a claim in “text.” In the Note to Copyright Office field, the applicant explains that he “read many newspapers and books in researching this topic.” The New Material Included / Material Excluded fields may be left blank. The underlying facts, ideas, or concepts derived from the author’s research are not copyrightable, and thus, are automatically excluded from the claim. See 17 U.S.C. § 102 (B).


• An online application is submitted for a doctoral dissertation that contains extensive quotes and bibliographic references. The applicant asserts a claim in “text,” but the Limitation of Claim screen is blank. The registration specialist may register the claim.


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