Copyright Compendium

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721.9 (F) Asserting a Claim to Copyright in a Computer Program

 

721.9 (F) Asserting a Claim to Copyright in a Computer Program

 

The applicant should identify the copyrightable authorship that the applicant intends to register and should assert a claim to copyright in that authorship. The information provided in the application defines the claim that is being registered, rather than the information given in the deposit copy(ies) or elsewhere in the registration materials.

 

When completing an online application, the applicant should provide this information on the Author screen in the field marked Author Created. When completing a paper application, the applicant should provide this information on space 2 of the application under the heading Nature of Authorship. For guidance on completing this portion of the application, see Chapter 600, Section 618.4.

 

“Computer program” is the most appropriate term for registering a claim in this type of work. If this term does not fully describe the copyrightable material that the applicant intends to register, the applicant should provide a more specific description in the Author Created/Other field using the procedure described in Chapter 600, Section 618.4 (A). For a representative list of other terms that may be acceptable, see Section 721.9 (G).

 

“Revised computer program” is the most appropriate term for registering a claim in a derivative computer program. If this term does not fully describe the copyrightable material that the applicant intends to register, the applicant should provide a more specific description using the procedures described in Chapter 600, Section 621.8 (C) (1) and 621.8 (C) (2). For a representative list of other terms that may be acceptable, see Section 721.9 (G).

 

As discussed in Section 721.7, an applicant may assert a claim in executable code as well as the nonexecuting comments that appear in the source code for a computer program. Both claims may be registered with the same application. To register a claim in executable code, the applicant may check the box marked “computer program” in the Author Created field. To register a claim in nonexecuting comments, the applicant may check the box marked “computer program,” or may also check this box and state “nonexecuting comments” in the field marked Other. In both cases, the applicant should avoid using the term “text,” either alone or in combination with the term “computer program.”

 

If the claim is unclear, the registration specialist may communicate with the applicant or may refuse registration. For example, if the applicant merely asserts a claim in “text” or a claim in “text” and “computer program,” the specialist will communicate if it is unclear whether the deposit copy(ies) contain text that is distinguishable from source code, object code, or other statements or instructions that may be used directly or indirectly in a computer in order to bring about a certain result. Likewise, the specialist may communicate if the applicant merely asserts a claim in “computer program” that is not discernable as a written language or a programming language.

 

If the applicant asserts a claim in both the copyrightable and uncopyrightable features of the program, the specialist may communicate with the applicant or may annotate the application to indicate that the registration does not extend to the uncopyrightable features. For representative examples that illustrate this practice, see Chapter 600, Section 618.8 (C). If the claim appears to be based solely on the functional aspects or other features that are not eligible for copyright protection, registration will be refused.

 

For a representative list of unclear terms that may be questioned, see Section 721.9 (I). For a representative list of terms that will not be accepted, see Section 721.9(J).