Monday, April 25, 2011

Does Copyright Office Check for Conflicts?

Dear Rich: Are works submitted for copyright protection automatically registered, or does the copyright office check for conflicts before registering submitted materials? Unlike when you file for a patent, or a trademark, there is no "similarity check" when filing for a copyright registration. (Don't worry, we won't bore you with a long explanation as to why that is.) When an application arrives, the Copyright Office checks: (1) that the application is complete -- that is, all of the parts are there, (2) that there are no obvious errors in the application (see below), and (3) that the work being registered is appropriate "subject matter" for copyright. The best way to get an idea of what matters to the Copyright Office and whether an error has been made in the application is to review the Copyright Compendium II, the 'rule book' for Copyright Office examiners. In addition, these internal rules overlap with 37 C.F.R. Sections 201-202 (the Code of Federal Regulations). By the way, the fee for filing a paper application has risen from $45 to $50. The fee for electronic filing is still $35.