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Understanding the Work of the U.S. Copyright Office

Posted on in Intellectual Property

Florida copyright attorneyVirtually every business produces something that needs federal copyright protection, if only in the form of their business website. Thousands of businesses, large and small, base the bulk of their business on copyrighted works that range from knitting patterns to photographs to music videos. To protect their valuable intellectual property, they rely on the U.S. Copyright Office.

You might wonder exactly what the U.S. Copyright Office does. A dig into this agency’s fiscal year 2017 report revealed some interesting insights.

The Mission of the U.S. Copyright Office

The Copyright Office has the important job of “promoting the progress of science … by securing for limited times to authors … the exclusive right to their respective writings” as envisioned by the U.S. Constitution.

Copyright Registration Is Their Top Job

The Copyright Office is responsible for examining each application for a copyright and recording the ownership of each submitted work. It organizes these applications into three categories: Literary, Performing Arts, and Visual Arts. Staff members must examine each creative work to determine whether it is copyrightable and whether the application complies with all regulations.

In fiscal 2017, the Office processed 452,122 requests for copyright registration. 45% of these were in the Literary category, 36% in Performing Arts (including sound recordings), and 19% in Visual Arts.

The U.S. Copyright Office maintains the world’s largest database of copyrighted works and copyright ownership, which represents an amazing record of American writing, culture, and innovation.

The Copyright Office’s Registration Program consists of the Literary, Performing Arts, and Visual Arts Divisions. Staff members in each division examine creative works of authorship to determine whether they are copyrightable and whether claimants have complied with copyright law and regulations

Just as each piece of real estate in the U.S. has a historical chain of title that must be updated each time a property changes hands, so does a copyrighted work. The Copyright Office is responsible for maintaining information on copyright assignments, licenses, and similar transactions. Authors, heirs, copyright owners, and others submitted nearly 15,000 documents to the Office in 2017 referencing over 400,000 titled works.

The office also provides records to lawyers involved in copyright litigation and answers other public inquiries.

Legal and Policy Services Related to Copyrights

Copyright Office lawyers provide legal analysis for intellectual property cases being decided by the Supreme Court, for international treaty negotiations, and on emerging issues such as software-enabled consumer products.

The Copyright Office must publish a number of new or updated regulations, and related informational circulars for the public, every year. In the fiscal year 2017, the Office updated nine regulations, addressing issues such as privacy-related removal of personally identifiable information.

These are just a few of the important ways that the U.S. Copyright Office helps protect the intellectual property of American artists and businesses.

Consult an Experienced Florida Copyright Attorney

Protect your valuable intellectual property. Make sure it is properly copyrighted under federal law. A knowledgeable Tampa copyright lawyer can help you file for copyrights and take legal action to defend your work against unlawful competitors. Nelson Cyber Law, PLLC, is equipped to take on even the most seasoned adversaries. Call 1-800-440-5536 for a free 30-minute consultation.




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