Preregistration was instituted by the United
States Copyright Office as a new method for further
protecting individuals or companies from copyright infringement and violation.
It is a direct contingent to the Artists’ Rights and Theft Prevention Act of
2005, and its provisions allowed for the Copyright Office to accept and process
applications for preregistration of unpublished or unreleased works or
materials that have the intention to be used for commercial distribution and
The ART Act, as it is commonly referred to,
was enacted in to Federal legislation on April 27th, 2005. The
ART Act was a direct result of many works and
materials being made available through illegal means, as well as the release
and distribution of yet unpublished or unreleased works.
An example is the notorious case that heavy metal band Metallica had when it
filed suit against Napster, a software program designed for file sharing. The
band was made aware of their music being circulated that was currently still
being produced for release at a later time, as well as their entire back
catalog of music. File sharers would distribute and download the music without
purchasing it, and in this particular case, obtaining music that was not yet
released by the band or record companies.
Metallica filed suit claiming that Napster
was violating and infringing copyright laws. Copyright laws state that in order
to file suit for infringement, the works must be registered upon their release. This proved to be a problem because the works were not yet completed and
released and were already being pirated and illegally distributed.
Preregistration was instituted as a form to protect the illegal piracy or distribution of
works or materials and protect the copyright owner from infringement
However, preregistration is available only to those copyright owners that
intend to register their works because of the commercial viability and
distribution intentions. The Copyright Office, therefore, limited the types of
works that could be available to be preregistered to those to be commercially
distributed and meet the following criteria:
compositions and sound recordings
works to be published in book form
programs and video games
to be used in advertising or merchandising
These type of works have been evaluated and determined as susceptible to be
copyright infringed before their actual publication or distribution.
Preregistration applies only to those works that are still unfinished or
unpublished and have commercial intention to be released or distributed.
Preregistration does not preclude the regular copyright registration process
and must be completed as a provision for preregistration by copyright
The copyright owner must complete the normal
copyright registration procedures within three months of the release or
publication of the preregistered work or product, or within a month’s time of infringement
of the work or product preregistered. Copyright registration already allows for
protection of copyright infringement, but the preregistration option of
copyright registration is designed to allow for further provisions for that
protection. It is important to note that it does not act as a replacement of
the regular copyright registration process.
Though copyright registration
is not necessary or required for securing a copyright, it is strongly
recommended for published or commercially-distributed works, for it protects
the copyright owner from infringement violations. Under law, it is necessary
for a published work to be registered in order be eligible or able to file a
lawsuit concerning copyright infringement.
The copyright process itself
may prove to be challenging for it provides for different guidelines depending
on the context or nature of the work being submitted for review and eventual
registration. Because copyright registration is not necessary to obtain a
copyright, it also directly applies to copyright deposit, for it only is
necessary for the registration process. Individuals that have the intention of
publishing or commercially distributing their works are required to register
and deposit the appropriate copies as part of the process.
Preregistration allows for the
work to be protected as it is completed, for under regulation provision of copyright
law a work must be first published and registered to allow for a proper
copyright infringement lawsuit to be filed.
The eCO application allows for
the copyright application and registration process to be more efficient and is
simpler and more cost effective for the person submitting the application.
However, because of the nature of the copyright registration process, only
certain types of works or materials are eligible for the eCO application. Some
may choose the electronic option, but must also print out a Shipping Slip so
they can submit copies of their work that cannot be processed or submitted
Paper applications are also
available online as well. An individual may fill out the form on screen and
print it out in its completed form to be submitted with the proper copies of
the works being considered for copyright registration.
For certain types of works, the
application can be completed and submitted electronically, and the actual
submission the work’s copies can be shipped to the Copyright Office via mail
separately. The paper application process will naturally take longer than the
electronic version and also prove to be less cost effective. However, depending
on the nature of the work or material being registered, it may prove to be the
only viable option.
An individual must then obtain
the proper application form, which is categorized depending on the nature of
the work. The application processes all institute a filing fee that must be
submitted with the application form, regardless of which method is employed,
electronic or traditional paper.
registration is the process by which an official record is produced for the
purpose of being able to verify a copyrighted work. Copyright registration,
therefore, becomes an integral process of obtaining and securing a copyright
and becomes the key factor in the protection of the copyrighted work, as well
as the copyright owner.
registration also provides for the validity or verification in the case of
illegal infringement and any subsequent legal claims or cases that might arise
out the dispute of copyright ownership. Copyright registration can, as a
result, produce an original copy of the work from the Government to prove
validity in cases of dispute and verification purposes.
Copyright registration is not required, as it is
granted as an international right under the provisions of the Berne Convention
of 1886. However, it is strongly suggested to register a copyrighted work for
further protection of the material, as well as the copyright owner in terms of
possible legal disputes or situations that may arise. A copyright, therefore,
actually exists whether or not it is properly registered under United States
legislation or law.
international plane, the United States did not enter the Berne Convention until
1989. Thus it maintained its original process for copyright registration as
allowed by Federal law. The U.S. must consider all works of international
origins as if they have already undergone the copyright registration process in
the United States.
The United States Copyright office is the Government’s
institution that accepts the applications for registering a particular work.
Though it is not required for any type of work or material to be registered in
the United States to be recognized and protected as such, it is strongly
recommended that a copyright owner do so for verification purposes.
In order for
copyright infringement suits to be filed under United States law, copyright
registration is required in order to continue in the proceedings. All copyright
infringement cases are subject to the work being registered prior to the date
of the suit, or at least three months from the date of publication.
advantage to copyright registration is that in the case of infringement lawsuits,
the registration of a copyright work establishes prima facie evidence if the
registration process was completed and a certificate of the registration
process was bestowed within five years from the date of the first publication
of the work or material in question.
Finding copyright registrations has been made
fairly easy and convenient by the United States Copyright Office. All copyright
registrations and their subsequent renewals that have been registered from 1978
and onward can be found at the Copyright Office’s official website. Those
copyright registrations and renewals prior to that year are published Copyright
Catalogs, that are made available on a semi-annual basis. However, films that
were made between the years 1894 and 1969 have the copyright registrations made
available in the Cumulative Copyright Catalogs volumes, which are separated and
categorized in terms of decade. This publication is made available by the
United States Library of Congress.