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Copyright Registration

The registration process varies with the nature of the work, and more so how quickly the Copyright Office can review the work. For a work submitted by e-Filing, the Copyright Office claims that the average processing time is three months. For paper forms, the Copyright office claims that the average processing time is 10 months.  It is important to note that the effective date of registration is the date the Copyright Office receives the completed application, correct payment, and the appropriate number of copies of the working being registered in acceptable form. A person does not need to wait for a certificate of copyright ownership in order to proceed with publication.

The term of the copyright’s duration varies based on several factors. If the work is created after January 1, 1978, then copyright protection lasts for the life of the author, plus 70 years. For an anonymous, pseudonymous, or work made for hire after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for 95 years from the year of publication or 120 years from the year of creation, which ever expires first. For works published or registered (if the work is unpublished) prior to 1978, the first term of protection lasted 28 years and then if renewed in last year of the first term, was protected for another 28 years.

Works created after January 1, 1978 are not required to renew in order for protection to continue.  Upon creation, the work is protected for the full term and automatically expires upon its completion with no possibility of renewal.

Any or all of a copyright owner’s exclusive rights to a copyrighted work may be transferred. In order for a transfer to be valid, it must be in writing and signed by the owner of the rights or an owner’s authorized agent. An exception to this rule is that a transfer of a right on a nonexclusive basis does not require a written agreement. A copyright owner can also bequeath or will his/her copyright to a successor. A copyright is also subject to intestate succession. It is important to note that transfers of any and all of a copyright holder’s exclusive rights to a work may be cancelled after 35 years with written notice.


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