625 Registration Decision Date and Effective Date of Registration
When the U.S. Copyright Office completes its examination and “determines that . . . the material deposited constitutes copyrightable subject matter and that the other legal and formal requirements of [title 17] have been met,” the Office will “register the claim and issue to the applicant a certificate of registration.” 17 U.S.C. § 410 (A). In addition, it will create an online public record for the registration, which may be accessed through the Office’s website.
The certificate and the online public record will include the registration number that has been assigned to the claim. The certificate may also contain a “registration decision date.” This date appears on certificates issued on or after August 19, 2019, but it does not appear in the online public record for such claims.
The registration decision date is the date that “registration of the copyright claim has been made in accordance with [title 17].” 17 U.S.C. § 411 (A). In other words, it is the date that the Office completed its examination and determined that the “application, deposit, and fee” are “acceptable for registration.” 17 U.S.C. § 410 (D); Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC, 139 S. Ct. 881, 892 (2019) (“[W]e conclude that ‘registration . . . has been made’ within the meaning of 17 U.S.C. § 411 (A) . . . when the Register has registered a copyright after examining a properly filed application.”).
In addition, the Office will assign an “effective date of registration” (“EDR”) to the claim. This date appears on certificates issued on or after January 1, 1978 and in the online public record for such claims.
The EDR is the date that “an application, deposit, and fee, which [were] later determined by the Register of Copyrights . . . to be acceptable for registration, have all been received in the Copyright Office.” 17 U.S.C. § 410 (D). “Where the three necessary elements are received at different times the date of receipt of the last of them is controlling, regardless of when the Copyright Office acts on the claim.” H.R. REP. NO. 94-1476, at 157 (1976), reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. 5659, 5773.
If the Office “determines that . . . the material deposited does not constitute copyrightable subject matter or that the claim is invalid for any other reason,” the Office “shall refuse registration and shall notify the applicant in writing of the reasons for such refusal.” 17 U.S.C. § 410 (B). The date of the refusal will appear on the refusal letter.
“[I]f a court later determines that a refused claim was registrable, the ‘effective date of [the work’s] copyright registration is the day on which’ the copyright owner made a proper submission to the Copyright Office.” Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp., 139 S. Ct. at 889 (quoting 17 U.S.C. § 410 (D)). Specifically, the EDR is “the day on which an application, deposit, and fee, which [were] later determined . . . by a court of competent jurisdiction to be acceptable for registration, have all been received in the Copyright Office.” 17 U.S.C. § 410 (D).
Thus, Section 410 (D) “not only takes account of the inevitable timelag between receipt of the application and other material and the issuance of the certificate, but it also recognizes the possibility that a court might later find the Register wrong in refusing registration.” H.R. REP. NO. 94-1476, at 157, reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 5773.