Friday, June 05, 2009

Copyright Registration Backlog

Did you know that the Copyright Office, while implementing a new system, has a backlog on issuing registration certificates that runs as long as 18 months? I didn't.

Here's the recent Washington Post story about it: And see the blog "Exclusive Rights" ( for comment and analysis.

Again: Other countries don't even have a registration requirement. Also, in order to bring the U.S. into compliance with the international Berne Convention, the Copyright Act of 1976 softened previous registration requirements so that copyright inhered in creation of the work but the ability to sue depended on registration.

This is one of those practical reasons why the Second Circuit ruling in the Freelance case -- that unregistereds cannot even be part of a settlement class -- is unworkable. On grounds of judicial efficiency alone, I hope and expect the Supreme Court to see that issue differently.


Blogger Anita Bartholomew said...

One outcome I hope (but don't expect) to see is a court ruling that double-registration is not a requirement to bring a copyright lawsuit.

If the goal of registration is for the Library of Congress to have a copy of everything published, that goal is met for periodicals when the publisher registers the whole issue.

Requiring the writer to again register the individual article that's already part of a registered issue is A) inefficient and B) results in almost no individual articles registered (and writers unable to assert their copyrights in an economically meaningful way).

The sane approach would be to treat U.S. writers similarly to authors covered under the Berne Convention.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Links to 2 new filings in the case:

5:49 PM  
Blogger Irv Muchnick said...

Thanks for the links to these two amici briefs. I got copies of them (and a third amicus) but hadn't yet had the opportunity to upload them.

6:50 PM  

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