Copyright Registration-Preregistration: Importance of Preregistration

Copyright Registration-Preregistration: Importance of Preregistration

Copyright Registration-Preregistration: Importance of Preregistration

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of 2005, and its provisions allowed for the Copyright Office to accept and process applications for preregistration of unpublished or unreleased works or materials that have the intention to be used for commercial distribution and availability.

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of many works and materials being made available through illegal means, as well as the release and distribution of yet unpublished or unreleased works.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 violations.

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:


         Musical compositions and sound recordings

         Motion pictures

         Literary works to be published in book form

         Computer programs and video games

         Photographs 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 laws.

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.




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