When I first arrived at the U.S. Copyright Office back in June 2019, I spent some time getting up to speed on what exactly copyright is. I needed to know the answers to some basic questions like, “what is copyright,” “what is and isn’t protected,” and “why should people register with the Copyright Office.” Some of these were common questions that I found the answers to by visiting the copyright.gov FAQ page and circulars.
We now have a new way to learn about the Copyright Office and copyright in general: our Learning Engine YouTube series. The series gets its name from the Supreme Court quote that copyright is intended to be “the engine of free expression.” These videos are perfect for anyone who wants to learn more about copyright, is a content consumer—almost all of us who read books, watch videos, or listen to music—or may want to register their first copyright claim. As someone who recently was part of that target audience, I highly recommend them as a launching-off point on the subject.
First in the series is a welcome message from Register of Copyrights Karyn A. Temple. She provides a great introduction to the history of the Copyright Office, the function of the various Office divisions, and some of the resources available to support the public. Even those familiar with the Copyright Office may learn a thing or two. For instance, before watching this video, I did not know that the Office processes about 520,000 copyright claims over the course of a year. With further research, I discovered that in 2018, the Office forwarded 736,000 works to the Library of Congress collections. Meanwhile, I also enjoyed seeing in the video the extent of the Copyright Office’s card catalog with its records dating back to 1870.
If you get through the entire Learning Engine series of videos and are looking for more content, don’t worry. We will release more videos in the coming months. Make sure to subscribe to our channel so you don’t miss out on an update, and share them with your friends and family so they, too, can learn more about copyright and the Copyright Office.
Editor’s Note: The video is being updated and will be reposted soon.
Thanks so much for this! I started writing in my teen years and I need an update!
My understanding is that works produced for the federal government by government employees are not protected by copyright law and can be used by the public. Are these videos protected by copyright law? Or could they, for example, be shown in their entirety for a lecture on copyright law?
You are right that a work created by a federal government employee as a regular part of their job is in the public domain! But our Learning Engine videos are created by both Copyright Office employees and contractors who are not federal government employees. So the videos are not entirely in the public domain but we do encourage and allow them to be used and shared, especially in a copyright lecture.