USCO Online Registration Begins this Summer

An announcement on the United States Copyright Office (USCO) Web site announces the upcoming start of electronic filing this summer.

According to the announcement, some time this summer the USCO will begin beta testing their online registration system with “limited number of participants”. Once the testing is complete, the USCO will make the system available to the public.

The fee for an online registration will be reduced by ten dollars to $35, the $45 fee for a paper filing will remain in effect.

This announcement also puts the USCO on track to meet their previously stated goal of getting the online registration service up and running some time this year.

Registering Content Titles

The USCO also announced that they will be including titles in copyright registrations beginning sometime between October 1, 2007 and January 1, 2008. According to the USCO this to make the registrations “more comprehensive and more useful to those who search the records”.

This directly impacts people that might be registering compilations of materials such as music CDs with several songs, collections of poems or even blogs as they will be able to list the titles of their works in the registration.

Registering titles, however, will come at a cost. It will be $1 per title for an electronic registration and $3 per title for paper ones.

Why Register

Though USCO registration is not necessary to obtain copyright protection on a work, it is necessary in order to sue for infringement in a Federal court. As such, this electronic registration system has the potential to both reduce costs and save time when protecting one’s works, especially works that are already on the Web, such as blogs.

With that being said, the vast majority of sites need not invest in USCO registration. Unless the work is financially valuable enough to warrant suing someone for infringement, such a registration is likely to be a waste of time. You do not need to register your work to take advantage of the DMCA notice and take down provisions or file cease and desist letters, only to go to court within the United States.

Still, it will be interesting to see how well this system works, how much it speeds up the notoriously slow registration process (it takes an average of 2-3 months after receipt of form to send out the certificate) and if it motivates more people to register their works with the USCO.

Needless to say, this is a story I will be following very closely.

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