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

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623.1 What Is Special Handling?


623.1 What Is Special Handling?


Special handling is a procedure for expediting the examination of an application to register a claim to copyright or the recordation of a document pertaining to copyright. The U.S. Copyright Office offers this service in certain circumstances where a copyright owner or other interested parties have a compelling reason for the expedited issuance of a certificate of registration or a certificate of recordation, as described in Section 623.2. The Office charges an additional fee for this service, which is discussed in Section 623.6.


The copyright law provides that a work of authorship is protected by copyright from the moment it is fixed in a tangible medium of expression and that a registration or recordation is not a prerequisite for such protection. 17 U.S.C. §§ 102 (A), 408 (A).


However, registration is required in order to institute a lawsuit for the infringement of a U.S. work, and recordation is required in order to obtain the benefit of certain statutory provisions and presumptions. See 17 U.S.C. §§ 203 (A) (4) (A), 205 (C), 304 (C) (4) (A), 411 (A), 412.


The Office recognizes that a delay in the issuance of a certificate may create difficulties for the copyright owner or other interested parties, particularly when litigation is expected. Therefore, the Office has established a procedure for processing applications and recording documents on an expedited basis for an additional fee. The procedure for requesting special handling is discussed in Section 623.5.


See generally Fees for Special Handling of Registration Claims, 74 Fed. Reg. 39,900 (Aug. 10, 2009); Policy Decision: Revised Special Handling Procedures, 56 Fed. Reg. 37,528 (Aug. 7, 1991); Policy Decision Fixing Fees for the Special Handling of Import Statements and Documents, 50 Fed. Reg. 46,206 (Nov. 6, 1985); Policy Decision Announcing Fee for Special Handling of Applications for Copyright Registration, 47 Fed. Reg. 19,254 (May 4, 1982).


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