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Copyright Office Debuts Electronic Title List Validator

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The following is a guest post by James Sanders, Documents Subject Matter Specialist in the U.S. Copyright Office’s Public Records & Repositories Division.

The new ETL Validator tool will help remitters check the formatting of their electronic title lists.

In an effort to improve user experience, the Office has released a tool to streamline processes related to recordation. This new tool, called an Electronic Title List (ETL) Validator, serves as a complement to the existing electronic title list option. While ETLs are not new, the public has encountered certain challenges when preparing them. The new ETL Validator addresses those issues.

Recordation involves the submission of a document in paper form for filing and indexing into the Office’s public records. Many times, a document can contain hundreds or even thousands of related works.  An example of this circumstance is when a corporate entity acquires a large catalog of works from another entity. These sorts of large-catalog acquisitions are becoming more commonplace. Without an ETL, staff must identify the works to which the document pertains, index the document manually into the Office’s electronic system, and then prepare an online public record—all of which may contribute to additional processing time.

To assist in this process, remitters have the option of also submitting an ETL, an Excel file containing certain indexing information about the relevant works, such as their titles, type, registration numbers, and authorship. Because the ETL reduces the amount of time and labor needed to index the document, submitters who file an ETL receive their certificate of recordation in a shorter time.

However, not all ETLs are accepted. Often, rejected ETLs have issues that submitters could easily correct if they only knew about the errors prior to submitting the ETL. For example, at times, spreadsheets are submitted without any numbering (meaning that the “Title Number” column has been left blank). This makes the spreadsheet unacceptable, but this issue is readily correctable by remitters if it is clearly pointed out to them before submission.

Success! The ETL uses the proper template and data-formatting.

To give remitters a better submission experience, the Office created the ETL Validator. It allows the public the opportunity to easily evaluate the acceptability of their ETL and comprehensively address any issues prior to submission. The new tool ensures that the ETL complies with the Electronic Title List Requirements and Instructions by checking to see whether the ETL uses the appropriate template and data-formatting requirements. If so, the validator reports “SUCCESS!” If the validator identifies problems with the data formatting, submitters may download a report listing each detected error, correct them, and then retest the ETL until it successfully passes.

The Office is confident that the public will find this new tool useful when submitting documents for recordation. To find out more about the ETL Validator and submitting ETLs, visit our Electronic Title Lists page or feel free to contact the Recordation Section by phone at (202) 707-1759.

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