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Copyright Office Releases Public Draft of Update to Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices

Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices

Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices

The following is a guest post by Jalyce Mangum, attorney-advisor, Office of the General Counsel.

Today, the Copyright Office releases a public draft of the latest update to the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices. As both a technical manual for the Office’s staff, as well as a guidebook for authors, copyright licensees, lawyers, scholars, the courts, and members of the public, the Compendium addresses fundamental principles of copyright law, routine questions about accessing the Office’s public services, and the policies and procedures the Office uses in the course of conducting business.

The Copyright Office is constantly reviewing its practices to keep pace with the ever-evolving copyright landscape. As a result, the Compendium is a living document that will be updated as needed to capture ongoing changes to regulations and practices.

In this public draft, the Office has updated the Compendium to reflect the Supreme Court’s 2017 decision in Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc., the Office’s recently completed rulemakings, and the technical upgrades made to the electronic registration system, among other things.

As reported here, the Star Athletica decision established a single standard for determining the extent to which copyright protects art applied on or incorporated into cheerleader uniforms, hookahs, hubcaps, crash-test dummies, and the like. Based on the decision, the public draft provides new guidance for claims involving useful articles, as well as claims involving works of artistic craftsmanship, models, technical drawings, and other works of the visual arts.

In addition, the Office updated the Compendium to reflect rulemakings it has completed since the Compendium was last revised on September 29, 2017. In the last seventeen months, the Office has issued final rules establishing new group registration options for unpublished works and unpublished photographs and modifying group registration options for published photographs, serials, newspapers, and newsletter issues. The Office has also set new deposit requirements for literary monographs, printed music, and photographic databases, and made technical amendments to the regulation governing copyright notice. The public draft incorporates all of these changes, as well as updates practices recently implemented by the Office of Registration Policy & Practice clarifying how and when the Office will communicate with applicants, when it will attempt to correct deficiencies in the application, when it will register a claim with an annotation, and when it will refuse registration.

In addition to its final rules, the Office recently issued proposals to amend its regulations regarding architectural works and to establish a group registration option for short online literary works.  These amendments will be included in the final version of the Compendium if they are finalized before this update goes into effect. The final version will also be updated to reflect the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Fourth Estate v. Wall-Street.com.

The public draft also reflects upgrades the Office has made to our electronic registration system. As announced here, the Office released a new and improved Single Application modifying certain aspects of the online application. Coupled with the modifications to the Single Application, the Office expanded the unique identifiers that may be provided in an application for registration, adding ISMN, ISWC, and ISTC numbers, among others. The Office also added a feature to block unacceptable file types.

Now that the Office has released its public draft, we welcome your comments. The commenting period will be open until May 14, 2019. The Office depends on your participation to make the Compendium a helpful and relevant resource. The Office will carefully review and consider your comments and release a final version this fall.

To discuss these updates and answer questions about the public draft, the Office will host a webinar on April 10, 2019, at 2:00 pm ET. To register for this event, please click here.