The following is a guest post by Whitney Levandusky, attorney-adviser, Office of Public Information and Education.
On September 21, the Copyright Office released a fresh batch of circulars. Circulars are publications intended to provide a general audience with up-to-date and authoritative copyright information. They have been used by the Office since the late 1800s, and cover a wide variety of topics. The just released circulars cover the basics of copyright law, registration, works made for hire, and a variety of creative works, including musical compositions, sound recordings, and websites.
One thing you may notice about these circulars: they look quite different!
We’ve redesigned the circulars to reflect that the public now finds a lot of its copyright information on the internet. The circulars have been around for quite some time, and for most of their history, they reached the public through the mail and other means of physical distribution. We even had a whole department charged with responding by mail to requests for information. These circulars were designed with print in mind.
While we’ll still answer those requests for paper copies, by far the vast majority of the public turns to our website, www.copyright.gov, for information first. As a result, we want to make sure the circulars we make available are best designed for online access, reading, and sharing.
All circulars share a few of the same design elements to help you decide whether a particular circular is right for you:
- On the left-hand side, we’ve provided a brief overview of the circular’s contents. You can scan this list for a preview of what’s inside, and determine whether to read on.
- In the top right hand corner, we have the circular number. Just a quick glance will let you know if you’re in the right place.
- There’s one footnote that provides the authoritative sources of copyright law and Office practices and procedures. While circulars are authoritative resources for copyright information, it’s always best to turn to the copyright law, regulations, or Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices for a citation and the full details.
Each circular released this week reflects these design changes.
In addition, we’ve updated many of the circulars to reflect the updated language and practices found in the third edition of the Compendium.
Check out the new circulars, and keep an eye on the Copyright Office as we continue to update and refresh our circulars throughout the year.