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Graphic Artists Guild

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The Copyright Office facade

Copyright Office Extends COVID-Related Operations Provisions

The Copyright Office has extended its adjustments to the copyright registration process until September 8, 2021. The temporary provisions address problems people may have in meeting timing requirements or fees because of pandemic-related closures. The measures were implemented in March 2020, after the CARES Act authorized the Register of Copyrights to temporarily adjust timing or procedural provisions of the Copyright Act.

Under copyright law, a copyright owner is eligible to receive statutory damages for a copyright infringement only if they have registered the copyrights to a work prior to infringement or within three months of publication. The effective date of registration is the date the Copyright Office receives the registration application, fee, and complete deposit of the work.

The COVID provisions modify the timing requirements, recognizing the copyright registration may be difficult for those affected by the closure of businesses and travel restrictions. Note that the provisions vary depending on whether you are required to submit a physical copy of your artwork to meet the deposit requirement. They also address problems people have had in meeting the full registration fee.

The adjustment to the timing and fee provisions are:

  • If you can submit your registration, including the deposit requirement, entirely electronically, the timing requirement is unchanged.
  • If you can submit your application electronically but are required to submit a physical deposit and are unable to do so, you must submit a declaration stating so. You will then be required to send in the deposit 30 days after the Register announces the lifting of the disruption.
  • If you were unable to submit a registration electronically or physically, you can submit an application after the Register has announced the lifting of the disruption. You must include a statement certifying that you were unable to submit the registration application, and you must submit the deposit of your work within 30 days.
  • Some registration applicants sent in registration fee amounts lower than the required fee, and the Copyright Office was delayed in corresponding because of Office disruptions. If certain conditions are met (including the full fee is paid), the copyright registration will proceed, and the effective date of registration will be tolled to the date the fee was received. However, these applicants may be eligible for statutory damages if the infringement occurred after publication and on or before the effective date of publication.

The temporary provisions also address timing requirements for notices of termination and other procedures disrupted by the pandemic. Read the full Copyright Office notice on their COVID operations update page.



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