U.S. Copyright Office
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Code of Federal Regulations


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§ 201.2 Information given by the Copyright Office. (a) In general. (1) Information relative to the operations of the Copyright Office is supplied without charge. A search of the records, indexes, and deposits will be made for such information as they may contain relative to copyright claims upon application and payment of the statutory fee. The Copyright Office, however, does not undertake the making of comparisons of copyright deposits to determine similarity between works. (2) The Copyright Office does not furnish the names of copyright attorneys, publishers, agents, or other similar information. (3) In the administration of the Copyright Act in general, the Copyright Office interprets the Act. The Copyright Office, however, does not give specific legal advice on the rights of persons, whether in connection with particular uses of copyrighted works, cases of alleged foreign or domestic copyright infringement, contracts between authors and publishers, or other matters of a similar nature. (b) Inspection and copying of records. (1) Inspection and copying of completed records and indexes relating to a registration or a recorded document, and inspection of copies or identifying material deposited in connection with a completed copyright registration may be undertaken in the Certifications and Documents Section. Since some of these materials are not stored on the immediate premises of the Copyright Office, it is advisable to consult the Certifications and Documents Section to determine the length of time necessary to produce the requested materials. (2) It is the general policy of the Copyright Office to deny direct public access to in-process files and to any work (or other) areas where they are kept. However, direct public use of computers intended to access the automated equivalent of limited portions of these files is permitted on a specified terminal in the Records Maintenance Unit, LM B-14, Monday through Friday, upon payment of applicable fees. (3) Information contained in Copyright Office in-process files may be obtained by anyone upon payment of applicable fees and request to the Information and Reference Division, in accordance with the following procedures: (i) In general, all requests by the public for information in the in-process and open unfinished business files should be made to the Certifications and Documents Section, which upon receipt of applicable fees will give a report that provides the following for each request: (A) The date(s) of receipt of: (1) The application(s) for registration that may have been submitted and is (are) in process; (2) The document(s) that may have been submitted for recordation and is (are) in process; (3) The copy or copies (or phonorecords) that may have been submitted; (B) The title of the work(s); and (C) The name of the remitter. (ii) Such searches of the in-process files will be given priority to the extent permitted by the demands of normal work flow of the affected sections of the Copyright Office. (4) Access will be afforded as follows to pending applications for registration, the deposit material accompanying them, and pending documents for recordation that were submitted within the twelve month period immediately preceding the request for access: (i) In the case of applications for registration and deposits accompanying them, upon the request of the copyright claimant or his/her authorized representative, and (ii) In the case of documents, upon the request of at least one of the persons who executed the document or by an authorized representative of that person. These requests should be made to the Public Information Office, and the review of the materials will be permitted there. No charge will be made for reviewing these materials; the appropriate search fee identified in §201.3(c) or §201.3(d) will be assessed, and the appropriate copying fee identified in §201.3(c) or §201.3(d) will be assessed if the claimant wants and is entitled to a copy of the material. (5) In exceptional circumstances, the Register of Copyrights may allow inspection of pending applications and open correspondence files by someone other than the copyright claimant, upon submission of a written request which is deemed by the Register to show good cause for such access and establishes that the person making the request is one properly and directly concerned. The written request should be addressed to Copyright GC/I&R, P.O. Box 70400, Southwest Station, Washington, DC 20024. (6) Direct public access will not be permitted to any financial or accounting records, including records maintained on Deposit Accounts. (7) The Copyright Office maintains administrative staff manuals referred to as its "Compendium of Office Practices I" and "Compendium of Office Practices II" for the general guidance of its staff in making registrations and recording documents. The manuals, as amended and supplemented from time to time, are available for purchase from the National Technical Information Service (Compendium I) and the Government Printing Office (Compendium II). They are also available for public inspection and copying in the Certifications and Documents Section. As the Office updates and revises certain chapters of Compendium II, it will make the information available on the Copyright Office's Web site. This information is also available for public inspection and copying in the Certifications and Documents Section. (c) Correspondence. (1) Official correspondence, including preliminary applications, between copyright claimants or their agents and the Copyright Office, and directly relating to a completed registration, a recorded document, a rejected application for registration, or a document for which recordation was refused is available for public inspection. Included in the correspondence available for public inspection is that portion of the file directly relating to a completed registration, recorded document, a rejected application for registration, or a document for which recordation was refused which was once open to public inspection as a closed case, even if the case is subsequently reopened. Public inspection is available only for the correspondence contained in the file during the time it was closed because of one of the aforementioned actions. Correspondence relating to the reopening of the file and reconsideration of the case is considered part of an in-process file until final action is taken, and public inspection of that correspondence is governed by §201.2(b). Requests for reproductions of the correspondence shall be made pursuant to paragraph (d) of this section. (2) Correspondence, application forms, and any accompanying material forming a part of a pending application are considered in-process files and access to them is governed by paragraph (b) of this section. (3) Correspondence, memoranda, reports, opinions, and similar material relating to internal matters of personnel and procedures, office administration, security matters, and internal consideration of policy and decisional matters including the work product of an attorney, are not open to public inspection. (4) The Copyright Office will not respond to any abusive or scurrilous correspondence or correspondence where the intent is unknown. (d) Requests for copies. (1) Requests for copies of records should include the following: (i) A clear identification of the type of records desired (for example, additional certificates of registration, copies of correspondence, copies of deposits). (ii) A specification of whether the copies are to be certified or uncertified. (iii) A clear identification of the specific records to be copied. Requests should include the following specific information, if possible: (A) The type of work involved (for example, novel, lyrics, photograph); (B) The registration number; (C) The year date or approximate year date of registration; (D) The complete title of the work; (E) The author(s) including any pseudonym by which the author may be known; and (F) The claimant(s); and (G) If the requested copy is of an assignment, license, contract, or other recorded document, the volume and page number of the recorded document. (iv) If the copy requested is an additional certificate of registration, include the fee. The Certifications and Documents Section will review requests for copies of other records and quote fees for each. (v) The telephone number and address of the requestor. (2) Requests for certified or uncertified reproductions of the copies, phonorecords, or identifying material deposited in connection with a copyright registration of published or unpublished works in the custody of the Copyright Office will be granted only when one of the following three conditions has been met: (i) The Copyright Office receives written authorization from the copyright claimant of record or his or her designated agent, or from the owner of any of the exclusive rights in the copyright as long as this ownership can be demonstrated by written documentation of the transfer of ownership. (ii) The Copyright Office receives a written request from an attorney on behalf of either the plaintiff or defendant in connection with litigation, actual or prospective, involving the copyrighted work. The following information must be included in such a request: (A) The names of all the parties involved and the nature of the controversy; (B) The name of the court in which the actual case is pending or, in the case of a prospective proceeding, a full statement of the facts of the controversy in which the copyrighted work is involved; and (C) Satisfactory assurance that the requested reproduction will be used only in connection with the specified litigation. (iii) The Copyright Office receives a court order for reproduction of the deposited copies, phonorecords, or identifying material of a registered work which is the subject of litigation. The order must be issued by a court having jurisdiction of the case in which the reproduction is to be submitted as evidence. (3) When a request is made for a reproduction of a phonorecord, such as an audiotape or cassette, in which either a sound recording or the underlying musical, dramatic, or literary work is embodied, the Copyright Office will provide proximate reproduction. The Copyright Office reserves the right to substitute a monaural reproduction for a stereo, quadraphonic, or any other type of fixation of the work accepted for deposit. [50 FR 30170, July 24, 1985, as amended at 51 FR 30062, Aug. 22, 1986; 62 FR 35421, July 1, 1997; 64 FR 29520, June 1, 1999; 69 FR 39332, June 30, 2004; 69 FR 70377, Dec. 6, 2004]