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applications for preregistration of unpublished or unreleased works or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and distribution of yet unpublished or unreleased works.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unpublished and have commercial intention to be released or distributed.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.