How to register a copyright: Part II – What specimen do I send in?

A deposit is required under U.S. copyright law for any work protected by copyright.When you register a copyright, whether for a film, drawing or computer software, you must submit a specimen of the copyrighted work with the U.S. Copyright Office. A deposit is required under U.S. copyright law for any work protected by copyright. Additionally, this specimen is important, as it leaves evidence of what exactly is being registered. Let’s look at the mandatory deposit requirement first.

Mandatory Deposits:

When a work protected by copyright is published in the U.S. (including foreign generic cialis online works that are subsequently published in the U.S.) the law mandates that a two copies of that work be submitted to the Copyright Office within three months of its first publication.

What about things that only appear online?

The good news is that the Copyright Office doesn’t automatically require mandatory deposit of items for items that only exist online. If the item is published in some tangible form, however, the mandatory deposit requirement still stands.

What is publication?

Generally, when it is first offered for either sale, rent, lease or lending.

What if I register?

A work can be registered in lieu of the mandatory deposit, since two copies of the work are required under registration. The difference is that mandatory deposit only applies to published works, whereas unpublished works can be registered, as well.

What specimen do I provide?

Different types of works require different types of specimens to be deposited.

Computer software:

U.S. courts are not in agreement as to whether the visual elements need to be a separate registration, so check with an attorney in your jurisdictionThe deposit material varies, depending on whether or not the code contains trade secrets. A pdf of the first 25 and last 25 pages of code (or the entire thing, if there are less than 50 pages) should be uploaded during online registration, if there are no trade secrets. If there are, a cover letter noting this fact should also be included. For software that also includes visual elements, like a video game, screen displays can also be sent in. U.S. courts are not in agreement as to whether the visual elements need to be a separate registration, so check with an attorney in your jurisdiction. Whatever is necessary to identify all copyrightable material should be submitted. Computer software with visual elements also requires a determination of whether the visual or literary elements predominate. Depending on which one is in the majority, a different type of filing is required.

Online works:

A copy of the work should be submitted during online registration, or a physical copy if applying by mail. Depending on how much is being deposited, a representative amount could be sufficient. See this pdf from the Copyright Office for more info.

Board Games:

A physical copy of the published game is required, unless the dimensions of the game exceed 12″ x 24″ x 6″. If so, appropriate “identifying material” should be sent instead. This basically means enough images to show the entire copyrightable content contained in the work. This should also include a shot of the title and the actual dimensions of the work. See this page from the Copyright Office for more details. We’ve only scratched the surface of what to include with a copyright registration.We’ve only scratched the surface of what to include with a copyright registration. The documents featured on the U.S. Copyright Office website contain detailed information on the various types of copyrightable materials and what is required. A copyright attorney may also be able to help throughout the registration process. Feel free to contact one for a free consultation. photo credit: opensourceway via photopin cc

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