Ensuring that Copyright Office systems are modernized and work effectively for both creators and users of copyrighted works in the digital age is one of the Copyright Office’s most critical missions. Over the course of the last couple of years, I have encountered a wide variety of creators and other users of our system excited about the Office’s efforts to modernize and eager to share their thoughts on ways to make the copyright registration system more robust, user friendly, flexible, and suitable for their needs. It is truly inspiring to hear directly from the users of our system how the Copyright Office impacts their daily lives and how important copyright registration is to them personally. I look forward to hearing your ideas, critiques, and even criticisms. All are helpful as we continue working to improve our services for the public.
Maybe our paths haven’t crossed yet. But today, you have the opportunity to voice your suggestions and opinions on modernization directly to the Office. Whether you are a large corporation, an individual creator, or an academic user of our public records, we want to hear from you. The Copyright Office has released a Notice of Inquiry seeking your input on how to modernize copyright registration policy and practices as we improve our systems. As part of our Office-wide modernization effort, the Office is considering changes to improve user experience, increase Office efficiency, and decrease processing times. To enhance our process and deliberation, the Office seeks to collaborate with current and prospective users of the registration system, as well as users of creative works.
The Office has prioritized modernization with an aim to meet four objectives: (1) to build a new enterprise copyright IT system featuring a user-centered and flexible design, (2) to streamline processes and policies, (3) to improve access, and (4) to reimagine the entire Office.
Last year, the Office undertook large-scale research, design, and usability testing efforts to completely reimagine the registration application experience. To begin building a next generation registration system to meet the needs of our users and the general public, the Office initiated targeted outreach efforts to engage individual creators, organizations, companies, and lawyers who use the copyright registration system. With the assistance of a third-party contractor, the Office conducted external user interviews in Nashville, Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C. We also reviewed survey comments collected from our current registration system and inquiries received by the Office’s Public Information Office, which included over 10,000 responses from individual applicants.
Because of your feedback, the Office is well underway in building a next generation registration system. In April 2018, the Office built an application prototype. And in July 2018, we recruited current users of the registration system to begin several remote usability tests. Participants agreed to turn on their webcams to have their reactions recorded as they navigated through the application prototype screens. Users were also asked to vocalize their thoughts as they completed the application. I participated in the usability testing myself and was really encouraged to see and experience a first-hand view of the progress being made on the registration system. After analyzing participant reactions, as well as mouse movements and final application submissions, the Office made adjustments and will begin a next round of usability testing next month with new application prototypes.
I am pleased that the application prototypes and wireframes developed include marked enhancements to the current user experience such as –
- A more powerful dashboard, allowing users to track application progress;
- An integrated drag-and-drop submission option for electronic deposits;
- An improved messaging system to confirm that a submission has been received and to provide details on what to expect next;
- A draft certificate function, allowing users to view a draft version of the registration certificate before final submission; and
- Automated validations.
The end result will be a design that is user-focused. Thus, we have made great efforts to involve our users at every stage of development.
As the Office makes strides to develop a modern and viable copyright registration system, the Office also seeks to streamline copyright registration practices and policies for the digital age. To do that, we are continuing our outreach efforts to bring you into the process. The Office is interested in hearing your perspectives and suggestions. Specifically, the Office seeks input on three areas of reform: (1) the administration and substance of the application for registration, (2) the utility of the public record, and (3) the deposit requirements for registration.
In this Notice of Inquiry, the Office proposes several solutions to a broad range of issues related to the national copyright registration system. For example, the Office is considering adopting a dynamic pricing model, providing electronic certificates, and simplifying deposit requirements for registration. With each proposal, we intend to enhance user experiences by improving efficiency, adding value, and decreasing processing times.
So we invite your comments. The commenting period will be open until January 15, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. eastern time. After the close of the commenting period, the Office will review and consider public comments and issue subsequent rulemakings next year.
The Office is moving forward with modernization and making significant progress behind the scenes. We met several milestones in fiscal year 2018, developing prototypes, beginning usability testing, and building wireframes. Modern registration policies will allow the Office to continue advancing modernization efforts in the coming year.
Read more information about the Office’s modernization initiatives here. And as always, to offer feedback about our current copyright systems or to inquire about our modernization effort, please contact us at [email protected].