Copyrights

Help: Author

Author's Name

The author of a work is responsible for its creation. Normally, the author is the person who actually creates the authorship being claimed. The only exception occurs when authorship is created as a work made for hire. In this case, the employer is considered the author, not the employee who created the authorship. (See below for information on works made for hire). The copyright in the work of authorship immediately becomes the property of the author.

Work Made for Hire

work made for hire is either

  • a work created by an employee as part of his/her regular duties. A person is an employee if the hiring party has the right to control the manner and means by which the work is created. Courts have considered certain factors in the employment relationship, such as whether taxes are withheld or benefits given, to determine whether the contributor is an “employee” under this sense of the definition. See Circular 9.

or

  • specially commissioned work for certain categories of works and only if there is a written agreement between the employer and employee stating that the work is made for hire. Specially commissioned works must fall into one of the following categories: 
    1. contribution to a collective work
    2. part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work
    3. translation
    4. supplementary work
    5. compilation
    6. instructional text
    7. test or answer material for a test
    8. atlas

If a work is made for hire, the employer is the author. See “statutory definition” below.

STATUTORY DEFINITION

work made for hire is defined as:
  • A work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment, or
  • A work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire.A supplementary work is defined as a work prepared for publication as a secondary adjunct to a work by another author for the purpose of introducing, concluding, illustrating, explaining, revising, commenting upon, or assisting in the use of the other work, such as forewords, afterwords, pictorial illustrations, maps, charts, tables, editorial notes, musical arrangements, answer material for tests, bibliographies, appendices and indexes.

Doing Business As

If the author is doing business under another name and as long as the two names represent one and the same entity (such as an unincorporated organization), give this information in a “Note to Copyright Office” on the Certification screen. The relationship may also be expressed as “trading as,” “sole owner of,” “also known as,” and “acceptable alternative designation.” Note: Do not refer to a relationship between an individual and a corporation or partnership; such organizations are separate legal entities from individuals associated with them. Thus, “John Smith doing business as XYZ Corporation” is not an acceptable entry.

Examples:

John Smith (author) doing business as Smith Publishing Company 
Sue Jones (author) trading as Jones Productions

Dates of Author's Birth and Death

The author's Year of Birth is optional but is useful as a form of identification. Note that, if given, this information will appear in the public record. Leave this space blank if the author is an organization.

If the author is deceased, the copyright law requires that the Year of Death be included in the application (unless the work is anonymous or pseudonymous and the author is not named on the application).

Author's Citizenship or Domicile

Give the country of which the author is a citizen and or the country in which the author is domiciled. A domicile is the place where an individual has his/her permanent home. For the citizenship of a corporate author, you may give the country under the laws of which it was incorporated. For the domicile of an organizational author, you may give the country of the principal place of business.

Anonymous Work

An author's contribution to a work is “anonymous” if that author is not identified on the copies or phonorecords of the work. If the contribution is anonymous, you may:

  • reveal the author's identity even though the work is anonymous, or
  • leave the author fields blank, or
  • give “Anonymous” in the last name field.

Note that if a work is “made for hire,” you must name the employer as author. In any case, you should check the anonymous box.

Pseudonymous Work

An author's contribution to a work is “pseudonymous” if that author is identified on the copies or phonorecords only under a fictitious name. If the contribution is pseudonymous, you may:

  • reveal the author's identity even though the work is pseudonymous, or
  • leave the author fields blank.

In either case, you should check the pseudonymous box and give the pseudonym in the space provided. (Note: If your work is a work make for hire, it is not necessary to check the pseudonymous box).

Author Created

Check the appropriate boxes to indicate this author's contribution to the work. The choices that appear correspond to the type of work you identified at the beginning. If you need to be more specific, use the space under “other.”

Literary Authorship

  • Text may include non-dramatic literary works such as books, periodicals, manuscripts, stories and poetry. (Note: titles, names, short phrases, and slogans are generally not protected by copyright.).
  • Editing consists of adding, revising, and/or deleting preexisting text.
  • Photograph(s) includes photographic illustrations, prints, and slides.
  • Artwork may include works such as two- or three-dimensional artwork, illustrative matter such as drawings, technical drawings, or other non-photographic pictorial representations.
  • Compilation is a work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that are selected, coordinated or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship. To be copyrightable, a compilation must contain at least a certain amount of original selection and/or ordering. For example, the selection of only 3 poems from different authors would not constitute a copyrightable compilation.
  • Computer Program refers to computer code, that is, a set of statements or instructions to be used in a computer in order to bring about a certain result.
  • Other may be used to briefly state (in general terms) authorship that is not covered by the boxes provided and for which you seek this registration.

Visual Arts Authorship

  • Text includes textual material that accompanies pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, such as comic strips, greeting cards, games rules, commercial prints or labels, and maps.
  • Photograph(s) includes photographic illustrations, prints, slides and holograms. 
  • Jewelry design includes 3-dimensional designs applied to rings, pendants, earrings, necklaces, and the like.
  • Architectural work consists of designs of buildings, including the overall form as well as the arrangement and composition of spaces and elements of the design. Note: Any registration for the underlying architectural plans must be applied for on a separate application, checking the box “Map and/or Technical drawing”.
  • 2-D artwork includes watercolor and oil paintings; pen and ink drawings; logo illustrations; greeting cards; collages; stencils; patterns; computer graphics; graphics appearing in screen displays; artwork appearing on posters, calendars, games, commercial prints and labels, and packaging as well as 2-dimensional artwork applied to useful articles, and designs reproduced on textiles, lace and other fabrics; on wallpaper, carpeting, floor tile, wrapping paper, and clothing. Non-animated drawings for computer and cyberspace contexts (often called 3-D drawings or 3-D artwork) are covered by this option.
  • Sculpture includes fine art sculptures, toys, dolls, scale models, and sculptural designs applied to useful articles.
  • Map: Maps are cartographic representations of an area, such as state and county maps, atlases, marine charts, relief maps, and globes.
  • Technical Drawing: Technical drawings are diagrams illustrating scientific or technical information in linear form, such as architectural blueprints or mechanical drawings.
  • Other may be used to briefly state (in general terms) authorship that is not covered by the boxes provided and for which you seek this registration.

Performing Arts Authorship

What do you want to register?

You should identify the authorship that you intend to register by checking one or more of the boxes in the field marked “Author Created.”

  • Music refers to the melody, rhythm and/or harmony of a musical composition.
  • Lyrics refers to the words of a song or other musical composition.
  • Musical Arrangement refers to a new or revised harmony or instrumentation that has been added to a preexisting musical work.
  • Text refers to the words of a script, screenplay, teleplay, treatment, synopsis, or similar works.

    script is the text of a story that is intended to be performed for an audience.

    stage script is a script that is intended to be used in a theatrical performance, such as a stage play, musical play, or other dramatic work.

    screenplay is a script that is intended to be used in a motion picture.

    teleplay is a script that is intended to be used in a television broadcast.

    treatment is a written description of a dramatic work, motion picture, television show, or similar types of works. Typically, a treatment outlines and describes the scenes and/or characters and often includes sample dialog. A treatment is generally longer and more detailed than a synopsis.

    synopsis is a brief written summary (usually one or two pages) of the major plot points and description of the characters in a dramatic work, a motion picture, a television show, or similar types of works.

If these terms do not fully describe the authorship that you intend to register, you may provide a more specific description in the field marked “Other.” For example, if the author wrote the script for a stage play, you may write “Script” or “Play.”

Note: If you want to register a song and a particular recording of that song, read these instructions.

What is the difference between a song and a recording of that song?A song and a particular recording of that song are separate works.  For example, the song “God Bless America” and a recording of Aretha Franklin singing “God Bless America” are two distinct works.  The song itself (i.e., the music and lyrics) is a “musical work.” A recording of that song performed by a particular artist is a “sound recording.”

  • If you want to register only the musical work (i.e., register the music and/or lyrics for a song without registering a particular recording of that song), you should select “Work of the Performing Arts” on the Type of Work screen.  On the Author Created screen check the boxes for “music” and/or “lyrics.”
  • If you want to register only the sound recording (i.e., register a particular recording of a song without registering the music and/or lyrics for that song), select “Sound Recording” on the Type of Work screen. On the Author Created screen check the box for “sound recording.”
  • If you want to register both the musical work and the sound recording (i.e., register the music and/or lyrics for a song and register a particular recording of that song), you must select “Sound Recording” on the Type of Work screen. On the Author Created screen check the box for “sound recording” and write “music” and/or “lyrics” in the box marked “Other.”

Note:  If you want to change your initial Type of Work selection from “Work of the Performing Arts” to “Sound Recording” (or vice versa), you should discard this application and start over with a new application.

Can you register a song and a recording of that song with the same application?

A song and the sound recording of it may be registered on one application only if all the author(s) contributed to both works, or the copyright claimant owns all rights in both works through a written transfer of ownership.

If you want to register both the musical work and the sound recording (i.e., register the music and/or lyrics for a song and register a particular recording of that song), you must select “Sound Recording” on the Type of Work screen.  If you want to change your initial selection from “Work of the Performing Arts” to “Sound Recording,” you should discard this application and start over with a new application.

If the musical work and the sound recording were created by different author(s) or if the copyright in the musical work and the recording are owned by different parties, you must file two separate applications:  one application for the music and/or lyrics for the song (using the option for “Work of the Performing Arts”) and one application for the recording of the song (using the option for “Sound Recording”).


Sound Recordings Authorship

What is a sound recording?sound recording is a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds fixed in a tangible medium of expression, such as a digital audio file or a compact disc. A sound recording may include the performance authorship and/or the production authorship that is embodied in the recording.

  • Examples of performance authorship include playing an instrument, singing, speaking, or creating other sounds that are captured in the sound recording.
  • Examples of production authorship include the act of recording the sounds that are embodied in the sound recording, or the act of mixing, manipulating, mastering, compiling, and/or editing those sounds to produce the final recording. 

Together, the performance and production are considered a single, integrated work.

What do you want to register? You should identify the authorship that you intend to register by checking the appropriate box in the “Author Created” field.To register only the performance / production authorship that the author contributed to this work, check the box marked “sound recording.”To register the performance / production authorship and the underlying musical, dramatic, or literary work that is embodied in that recording, check the box marked “Sound Recording” and briefly describe the underlying work in the field marked “Other.”   For instance, state “lyrics and music” to describe a song, “script” to describe a dramatic work, or “text” to describe a literary work.

What is the difference between a song and a recording of that song?A song and a particular recording of that song are separate works.  For example, the song “America the Beautiful” and a recording of Whitney Houston singing “America the Beautiful” are two distinct works.  The song itself (i.e., the music and lyrics) is a “musical work.” A recording of that song performed by a particular artist is a “sound recording.”

  • If you want to register only the musical work (i.e., register the music and/or lyrics for a song without registering a particular recording of that song), you should select “Work of the Performing Arts” on the Type of Work screen.  On the Author Created screen check the boxes for “music” and/or “lyrics.”
  • If you want to register only the sound recording (i.e., register a particular recording of a song without registering the music and/or lyrics for that song), select “Sound Recording” on the Type of Work screen.  On the Author Created screen check the box for “sound recording.”
  • If you want to register both the musical work and the sound recording (i.e., register the music and/or lyrics for a song and register a particular recording of that song), you must select “Sound Recording” on the Type of Work screen.  On the Author Created screen check the box for “sound recording,” and write “music” and/or “lyrics” in the box marked “Other.”

Note:  If you want to change your initial Type of Work selection from “Sound Recording” to “Work of the Performing Arts” (or vice versa), you should discard this application and start over with a new application.

Can you register a song and a recording of that song with the same application?A song and the sound recording of it may be registered on one application only if all the author(s) contributed to both works, or the copyright claimant owns all rights in both works through a written transfer of ownership. 

If the musical work and the sound recording were created by different author(s) or if the copyright in the musical work and the recording are owned by different parties, you must file two separate applications:  one application for the music and/or lyrics for the song (using the option for “Work of the Performing Arts”) and one application for the recording of the song (using the option for “Sound Recording”).


Motion Pictures Authorship

    • Entire motion picture may include direction, production, editing, music, script and cinematography. Most commercial motion pictures are registered as works made for hire and the employer is considered the author of all of these elements.

 

    • Production: The Producer plays a critical role in the creation of a motion picture. When a motion picture is “made for hire,” a company is usually the producer and handles both the creative and business details of making the motion picture overall. An individual person who functions as the producer usually plans, organizes and controls the various stages in the production. The producer often handles various business aspects of the production as well. To be considered an author of a motion picture, an individual producer must make a direct, creative contribution to the work. An individual producer who manages only the business aspects of a film project (sometimes referred to as the “executive producer”) is not considered an author.

 

    • Direction: The Director is the principal author of a motion picture. S/he translates the script to film and also is involved in every stage of production. S/he may supervise hundreds of people, from screenwriters to costume and set designers. The director is in charge of all technical and artistic aspects of the film or television show. S/he conducts auditions and rehearsals and approves the location, scenery, costumes, choreography, and music. In short, s/he directs the entire cast and crew during shooting.

 

    • Script/Screenplay is the written text used in the production/performance of the motion picture or television show.

 

    • Cinematography: The Cinematographer composes the film shots to reflect the mood the director wishes to create. S/he may operate the camera or may work with other camera operators to capture the script's scenes on film.
    • Editing: The Editor studies footage, selects the best shots, and assembles them by splicing and resplicing into sequences to achieve continuity and desired dramatic, comedic and thematic effects. The goal is to create dramatic continuity and the right pace for the desired mood.

 

    • Other may be used to briefly state (in general terms) authorship that is not covered by the boxes provided and for which you seek this registration, such as “choreography.” If your claim is in audiovisual material, such as in a videogame, website or internet advertisement, state “audiovisual material.” If the claim is in a computer program, state “computer program” and send the required source code deposit, as explained in Circular 61. This is usually the first 25 and last 25 pages of source code. Note that you may combine terms, for example, “audiovisual material and computer program.”

 


Single Serial Issue Authorship

Author's Name

The author named on the application should be the person or organization responsible for the compilation of the serial issue and any individual contributions which were authored by the person or organization listed. If the contributions and/or compilation were works made for hire, the employer is considered the legal author of that compilation and/or those contributions that were prepared as works made for hire. In such a case, you should not list the individual employee for hire as an “author.”

For contributions that were not authored by the individual or organization listed, you may list each individual contributor separately as an author, give the title of each contribution in the “other” field on the author created screen and check the appropriate transfer statement on the claimant screen (e.g., By written agreement(s) with author(s) named on the application/certificate) OR  do not list the individual contributors and check the appropriate transfer statement on the claimant screen (e.g., By written agreement(s) with individual contributors not named on the application/certificate).

Author Created

The new author created options are:

    • Compilation: You may check this box if the work consists of a copyrightable compilation.  A “compilation” is a work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship.  A publisher of a periodical will typically be the author of the compilation.

 

    • Contribution(s) to a Collective Work: You may check this box if the author listed is the author of contributions to a collective work (either as actual author or employer in the contributions in works made for hire). If there are contributions that were not authored by the individual or organization listed, you may list each individual contributor separately as an author, give the title(s) of their contribution(s) in the “other” field on the author created screen and check the appropriate transfer statement on the claimant screen (e.g. By written agreement(s) with author(s) named on the application/certificate) OR do not list the individual contributors and check the appropriate transfer statement on the claimant screen (e.g. By written agreement(s) with individual contributors not named on the application/certificate).

 

  • Other: A more specific statement is not generally necessary but may be given in the “Other” box. If you are listing the author of one or more individual contributions, give the title(s) of the contribution(s).