In order to further protect copyrighted works and their perspective owners, preregistration was a new procedure introduced by the United States Copyright Office as an available option. There is a certain procedure specialized for preregistration, and specific provisions that must be observed in considering the option.
Firstly, preregistration is advised to those that believe that their work or materials are likely to be infringed before they are released or published. Secondly, it is also recommended to consider preregistration if an individual has begun on a work or material but has not fully completed or finished it and is intending on registering upon its completion. Preregistration is only available to those that meet those works or materials that meet the following:
The work is not currently published
The work is in the process of being published or for commercial distribution, in physical or digital format
The work is meets one of these classifications:
Computer programs, which includes video games and their various formats
Photographs that are to be distributed for advertising or marketing purposes
Literary works to be published in book form
To apply for preregistration, the only currently available format is online; there are no paper applications available. The online application also includes a certificate that states there is expectation for the work to be distributed for commercial purposes, as well as providing for the application being filled out in a truthful and honest manner.
A fee is imposed for all those who wish to apply for preregistration, which is $115 and non-refundable, regardless if the application is approved or denied. The fee is for filling purposes and can be made with a credit card, existing Copyright Office Deposit Account, or ACH. ACH is an option where money is transferred from a personal or corporate account to the Copyright Office by electronic means.
The application also requires a description of work to be preregistered, which is to include the basic and simple features of the work. The description itself will be available as part of the online public record. No actual certificate will be issued for preregistration. However, an e-mail will be sent by the Copyright Office containing a confirmation notice, date and time, and preregistration number.
Preregistration is effective on the day that the application is completed and the fee is paid in full. It is important to note that preregistration is not a form of copyright registration, but simply the intention to regularly register for copyrights. It is required by copyright law that once a copyright is preregistered, that it be normally registered within three months of the work’s release or initial publication, or within one month that the copyright owner is made aware of copyright infringement or violation.
If the copyrights are not fully or normally registered after the allotted time, the Copyright Office may impose a fee as allowed by law and the legal suit will be considered in terms of copyright infringement.