The U.S. Copyright Office has updated many procedures to ensure continuity of operations and access to services during the COVID-19 pandemic. These FAQs answer common questions for how to use these updated procedures during the national emergency. If you have any questions, please call the Public Information Office (PIO) at (202) 707-3000 or (877) 476-0778 (toll free) or submit an inquiry at copyright.gov/help.
Please note that Library of Congress buildings are currently closed, including those in which the Copyright Office is located. During this time, you can still follow normal procedures for paper-based services, but the Office will only be able to respond to those submissions when Library buildings are reopened.
What Copyright Office services are available while Library buildings are closed and most of the Office is teleworking?
All Copyright Office services that do not require in-person interaction are available while the Office buildings are closed. The Office can’t respond to mail-based services, however, until a return to normal operations. Likewise, the Office is unable to accept in-person deliveries, including those sent by courier or delivery service. To reduce this impact, the Office has developed optional procedures for members of the public to access Office services entirely online. More information is available at copyright.gov/coronavirus.
I sent something by mail, courier, or delivery service to the U.S. Copyright Office since the national emergency started. Did you get it?
The Copyright Office building closed to the public on March 13, 2020 and the Office has been unable to receive in-person deliveries including those sent by courier or delivery service since that time. All mail received since then has been stored in the order in which it was received at an offsite facility. The Office will process these mailed items when Library buildings reopen.
Registration:How do I know whether to submit an electronic or physical deposit copy when I’m trying to file an electronic application?
During the pandemic, the Office strongly encourages you to file online applications and upload electronic deposit copies whenever possible. This is because the Office can review online applications and electronic deposits while Library buildings are closed. For more specific criteria see our frequently asked questions here.
What if I am NOT REQUIRED to submit a physical deposit when I’m trying to file an electronic application?
If you are not required to submit a physical deposit, the Office strongly encourages you to upload ONE electronic copy of your work after you complete the electronic application and pay the fee. You do not need to upload a declaration form or engage in any special procedures during the pandemic.
What if I’m trying to file an electronic application and must submit a physical deposit?
If you are required to submit a physical deposit, you should mail the deposit and shipping slip to the Office when you are able to do so safely and in compliance with your local, state, and national orders. But note: all mail is currently being stored in an offsite facility and will not be examined until the Office returns to normal operations.
The Office is, however, offering the following option that will enable us to remotely examine claims requiring physical deposits. Following this procedure will allow the Office to examine your claim remotely. To take advantage of this option, you must do ALL of the following:
- Complete an electronic application and submit the filing fee through the online registration system.
- Complete and upload a Deposit Ticket Declaration Form certifying that your physical deposit and electronic copy contain identical content. Be sure to:
- Include the title of your work because the Office will use the title to confirm that the information provided in the declaration matches the application.
- Sign the Deposit Ticket Declaration Form. You don’t need to provide a handwritten signature. Instead, you may sign the Deposit Ticket Declaration Form by typing your name in the space provided.
- The Deposit Ticket Declaration Form does not need to be notarized or witnessed.
- Upload an electronic copy of the work that is identical to the physical copy.
- Print a shipping slip, attach it to the physical copy of the work, and mail the package to the Copyright Office at the address provided in the shipping slip.
When you use this procedure, the effective date of registration will generally be the date that the Office receives the application, fee, and deposit in proper form (regardless of whether it first received a physical or electronic copy).
Can I still file a paper application?
In response to the national pandemic, Library buildings are closed to the public and the Office has implemented extended telework requirements. You can still follow normal procedures for mailing paper applications. The Office, however, will be unable to respond until Library of Congress buildings are reopened. This means that our review of your application will be delayed. Most registration applications may be submitted online using the online registration system. The Office strongly encourages applicants to submit registration applications electronically.
For vessel designs and group registration of non-photographic databases, the Office has implemented a temporary electronic submission option.
How do I request special handling?
During the national emergency, the Copyright Office can only receive and process requests for special handling submitted online. To register your works on an expedited basis, you should:
- submit an electronic application completing the special handling screen;
- pay the filing fee and the additional special handling fee; and
- upload an electronic copy of your work. If you are normally required to submit a physical deposit, you should also follow the instructions above for submitting a Deposit Ticket Declaration Form.
Using this procedure, the Office will be able to examine your claim or contact you with questions within five working days.
If you submit a physical copy (but do not upload an electronic copy of the same work) or if you submit a paper application, the Office will not be able to examine your claim until Library buildings reopen.
What do I do if I am unable to submit an application or a required physical copy due to the pandemic and I need to register to preserve statutory damages or attorney’s fees?
The Copyright Office established a procedure under section 710 of the Copyright Act that allowed you to preserve your ability to pursue statutory damages and/or attorney’s fees if the pandemic prevented you from timely applying to register or providing a physical deposit copy.
Between March 13, 2020 and December 31, 2021, the Register tolled the three-month window for registration after the date of first publication under the following conditions:
If you are unable to submit a required physical deposit copy, you may complete an electronic application, submit the filing fee, print a shipping slip and upload a section 710 Declaration through the online registration system. You must also mail the required deposit, along with the shipping slip to the address provided on the shipping slip within thirty days after the date the disruption has ended, which will be announced by the Register of Copyrights.
If you are unable to submit a paper or electronic application, you may submit an application, deposit, and fee after the Office announces the end of the disruption, and include a section 710 Declaration.
Section 710 Declarations must include satisfactory evidence to support your claim that you are (or were) unable to submit the required materials due to the pandemic, such as:
- a statement that you are (or were) subject to a stay-at-home order issued by a state or local government;
- a statement that you are (or were) unable to access required physical materials due to the closure of the business where they are located; or
- a statement that you are (or were) unable to access the internet.
How do I know whether I should use a Deposit Ticket Declaration Form or a 710 Declaration? How do I know what to submit?
If you submit a Deposit Ticket Declaration Form, you are certifying that the electronic copy of the work you are submitting for registration is identical to the required deposit copy of the work. You may upload a Deposit Ticket Declaration Form along with an electronic copy of your work to facilitate offsite examination when a physical copy is otherwise required. You may only use this option if you have already mailed the physical copy and shipping slip or intend to mail it within three business days of submitting your registration application.
If you submit a 710 Declaration, you are certifying that the applicant is (or was) unable to submit an application, fee, and/or required physical deposit due to the national emergency. Both declarations must contain a handwritten or typed signature, but do not need to be notarized or witnessed.
When will the Office examine my claim if I filed an application:
…electronically and I uploaded my deposit?
The Copyright Office is able to examine claims received entirely through the online registration system in the normal course of business. The Office generally examines claims in the order in which they are received.
…electronically and I sent in a physical deposit?
The Copyright Office is unable to examine physical copies that have been mailed to the Office. To mitigate the effect of this temporary closure, when an examiner is assigned to your claim, they may email you with the option of uploading an electronic copy of the work and a Deposit Ticket Declaration Form certifying that the electronic copy and physical copy contain the same content.
The email will come from [email protected], so be sure to check your spam filter and folders.
If you upload an electronic copy and Deposit Ticket Declaration Form in response to the examiner’s email, your claim should be examined within 30 days after the Office receives the electronic copy. If you are unable to upload an electronic copy, or do not wish to use this procedure, the Office will examine your claim when Library of Congress buildings reopen.
NOTE: Examiners are assigned claims in the order in which they are received. You do not need to contact the office before an Examiner contacts you if your claim is within the normal processing time.
If you submitted a paper application the Office will examine your claim when the Library of Congress buildings reopen. You should not resubmit your application online.
I received an email from a Copyright Office examiner and it says I need to reply within 45 days. I can’t reply in that time, so how do I request an extension?
Reply directly to the email requesting an extension. Be sure to include the Thread-ID from the original email in the body of your email response so that our system can return your email to the examiner.
How do I know if the Copyright Office registered or refused my claim?
Due to the national emergency, the Office was unable to print registration certificates between March 25, 2020 and June 24, 2020 . The Office began printing and mailing registration certificates on June 25, 2020 for all approved registrations including those that were approved between March 13, 2020 and June 24, 2020. If the Office registered your claim, you should receive a registration certificate in the mail. All approved registrations will also appear in the Office’s online catalog. You can search the catalog using the title of the work, author, or claimant name to find the registration number.
If the Office registered your claim through the Special Handling process, in addition to mailing a copy of the printed registration certificate, the Office will email you an unofficial copy of the registration certificate that will include the registration number.
If the Office refuses your claim, the Office will send a copy of the refusal letter by email only.
These emails will come from [email protected], so be sure to check your spam filter and folders.
How do I file a request for reconsideration?
While you may file a request for reconsideration by mail under the Office’s normal procedures, the Office is also offering an alternative procedure: Under this procedure you may submit your request for reconsideration to [email protected]. After the Office receives your request, we will contact you to provide instructions for paying the required filing fee electronically.
If you use this alternative procedure, the request for reconsideration and appropriate fee must be received within three months from the refusal date.
How do I request cancellation of a registration?
If you are the author or claimant of record, you may submit a request for voluntary cancellation by submitting it to [email protected]. An Office staff member will communicate with you about submitting the required fee, as shown in Copyright Office Fees (Circular 4).
For more information about voluntary cancellation, see section 1807.4(E), chapter 1800, of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices.