The following is a guest post by Robert J. Kasunic, Associate Register of Copyrights and director of Registration Policy & Practice.
At the beginning of October, the Copyright Office updated our Registration Processing Times and FAQ, found on our registration portal, to reflect significant decreases in the time it takes us to review copyright registration applications. Reflecting full fiscal year 2019 (October 1, 2018, to September 30, 2019) activity, this new data is exciting because it shows how much progress we have made in the past year.
This latest report reflects consistent reductions in registration processing times, reflecting the hard work of our staff handling these claims. This FY2019 data builds on work that the Copyright Office has been undertaking in recent years, as described in our May 31, 2019, letters to the Judiciary Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives. There we also reported significant improvements in reducing registration processing times over the 18-month period of October 2017 through April 2019.
Specifically, since October 2018, the Copyright Office has reduced registration processing times and the number of pending claims as follows:
- We decreased the overall average processing time for reviewing copyright claims from seven months to four, a substantial decrease of over 42 percent within a one-year period.
- The average processing for the 72 percent of claims submitted through the electronic registration system and do not require correspondence has decreased by 50 percent, from six months to three.
- Average processing times for electronic claims that require correspondence decreased by 33 percent, from nine months to six.
- Average processing times for all claims submitted by mail decreased by more than 50 percent; of the mail claims, processing times for those that did not require correspondence decreased from nine months to six and for those requiring correspondence decreased from twenty months to thirteen.
- We also reduced the number of workable claims on hand by almost 50 percent. At the beginning of fiscal year 2019, the Office had 184,506 workable claims on hand. But by the end of the year, the Office had closed 89,221 of these claims, effectively eliminating the backlog. As of the September 30, 2019, we had 95,285 claims on hand.
These improvements are good news for both the Copyright Office and applicants. We are able to more quickly process claims, which allows applicants to receive decisions more quickly. These decreases help us deliver registration services in an expert and timely manner while maintaining a high level of quality and accuracy. And while this is impressive, we also can provide special handling in certain situations so applicants can get decisions even faster. And applicants may also get speedy decisions with preregistration, which, while not a substitute for registration, provides access to courts for works that are vulnerable to being infringed before they are released.
Keep up to date on our processing times by checking out our processing time webpage, which we update every six months. We are committed to continuing to look for ways to examine applications quickly and effectively and are happy that our efforts are paying off.