Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Obtaining 1960 Song From Copyright Office

Dear Rich: My husband published and obtained a copyright on a song and music in 1960. He subsequently misplaced his copy of the material. How would he go about receiving a copy of his song and music from the Copyright Office? 
Because it's been almost 60 years since the song was deposited at the Copyright Office, we think it will be difficult, if not impossible to access your husband's "deposit materials" (as they are known in copyright parlance). Here's why.
The material may not be under copyright. At the time (1960) that your husband's song was registered, works had to be renewed after 28 years. So, unless your husband renewed the registration in 1988, the song is no longer under copyright.
The deposit materials may have been destroyed. In order to reconcile "the storage limitations of the Copyright Office with the continued value of deposits," the Register of Copyright is empowered to destroy deposit materials when necessary. In other words, decades-old deposits without historical value are typically destroyed.
Your husband may not qualify to request deposit materials. The Copyright Office will only furnish a copy of deposit materials if the materials are the subject of litigation, a court has ordered a copy, or "written authorization is received from the copyright claimant of record or the owner of any of the exclusive rights in the copyright..." Because a lack of renewal may have terminated copyright, your husband is no longer the copyright owner.
How to obtain deposit materials. If you still want to try for your deposit materials, follow the instructions at the Copyright Office site and pay the search fees required.

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