[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 15 (Tuesday, January 24, 2012)]
[Pages 3506-3508]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-1340]



Copyright Office

[Docket No. 2012-1]

Copyright Office Fees

AGENCY: Copyright Office, Library of Congress.

ACTION: Notice of Inquiry; Fees.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Copyright Office is in the process of reviewing its 
fees for services and will publish a proposed revised fee schedule in 
the spring. As part of the process of formulating that fee schedule, 
the Office seeks the views of interested parties on two particular 
issues: (1) With respect to the basic registration fee, should special 
consideration be provided to individual author-claimants registering a 
single work, and (2) are there any special services and corresponding 
fees the Office should expand, improve or add to its offerings at this 
time, including, for example, additional expedited services and fee 

DATES: Comments must be received no later than February 23, 2012.

ADDRESSES: The Copyright Office strongly prefers that comments be 
submitted electronically. A comment page containing a comment form is 
posted on the Office Web site at http://www.copyright.gov/docs/newfeeservices. The Web site interface requires submitters to complete 
a form specifying name and organization, as applicable, and to upload 
comments as an attachment via a browser button. To meet accessibility 
standards, submitters must upload comments in a single file not to 
exceed six megabytes (MB) in one of the following formats: the Adobe 
Portable Document File (PDF) format that contains searchable, 
accessible text (not an image); Microsoft Word; WordPerfect; Rich Text 
Format (RTF); or ASCII text file format (not a scanned document). The 
form and face of the comments must include both the name of the 
submitter and organization. The Office will post all comments publicly 
on the Office's Web site exactly as they are received, along with names 
and organizations. If electronic submission of comments is not 
feasible, please contact the Office at 202-707-8380 for special 

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Christopher S. Reed, Senior Advisor 
for Policy and Special Projects, Office of the Register of Copyrights, 
or David O. Carson, General Counsel, at (202) 707-8350.


I. Background

    The Copyright Act (the ``Act'') provides that the Register of 
Copyrights may adjust certain fees based upon a study of the costs 
incurred by the Copyright Office for the registration of claims, the 
recordation of documents, and the provision of services. 17 U.S.C. 
708(b). Since the Act was amended to provide for such adjustments, the 
Office has undertaken fee studies approximately every three years and 
made adjustments accordingly. The Office last adjusted fees in 2009. It 
is currently analyzing costs and corresponding fees and intends to 
propose a new fee schedule for public comment in the spring of this 
    At this time, the Office seeks public comment on two issues. First, 
with respect to the basic registration fee, should special 
consideration be provided to individual author-claimants registering a 
single work that is not a work made for hire? Second, are there any 
special services and corresponding fees the Office should expand, 
improve or add to its offerings at this time, including, for example, 
additional expedited services and fee options for copyright owners and 
their representatives?

II. Discussion

A. Applications by Individual Author-Claimants

    The Copyright Office is committed to maintaining an affordable 
copyright registration system. No author or copyright owner should be 
deterred from registering a copyright because the cost of registration 
is too high. On the other hand, much of the Office's budget comes from 
the collection of fees for costs of services rendered, and Congress has 
mandated that the Office periodically study and adjust fees as 
necessary. But some copyright registration applications are less 
expensive to process than others. Logically, an application by a single 
author, who also happens to be the sole copyright claimant, to register 
a single work should take less time and cost less to examine than an 
application involving multiple authors or works. At a time when the 
Copyright Office, like other agencies of the federal government, has a 
responsibility to provide greater fiscal stewardship (and is being 
called upon to be more self-sustaining), fees in general are likely to 
increase, raising possible policy issues. Individual authors may find 
higher fees an impediment to submitting applications, yet many of the 
works that come from authors are critical to the nation's economy and 
the Library of Congress' mint record and collection of American 
creativity. The copyright law itself is designed to promote and protect 
authorship and this includes facilitating registration for the 
establishment of a public record of copyright claims and to enable the 
copyright owner to seek all the remedies available in the Copyright 
Act. Similarly, users of copyrighted works rely on the Copyright Office 
registration records to identify copyright owners when they require 
licenses. If individual authors do not register and are therefore not 
part of the public database, they more than any other group of 
copyright owners may be difficult to find.
    The Copyright Office therefore seeks comment from authors, 
copyright owners and the public in general as to whether, in its 
proposed new fee schedule, the Office should set a lower fee for an 
application to register a single work when the application is submitted 
by a person who is the sole author and the sole copyright owner of the 
work, the work is not a work made for hire, and the work does not 
contain material that was previously published or registered. The fee 
would be lower than the registration fee for other applications in 
recognition of the lower cost in processing such simple applications as 
well as the need to encourage individual authors to register their 
copyrights. More complex registrations, such as those involving groups, 
collections, multiple titles, etc., require greater attention of 
Copyright Office staff (e.g., to ensure that the public database 
contains sufficient index terms and information) and therefore incur 
greater costs.
    There is some precedent for special treatment for simple basic 
applications by individual authors. Since 1995, Short Forms PA, TX and 
VA have been available to register a copyright claim by a living author 
who is the sole author of his or her work and is the sole owner of 
copyright in the work. Additional requirements for use of the short 
form are that the work must be completely new in the sense that it does 
not contain material that has been previously published or registered 
or that is in the public domain, and that the work must not be a work 
made for hire--i.e., a work prepared by an employee within the scope of 
his or her employment; or a work specially ordered or commissioned for 
certain uses, if the parties expressly state in a written agreement 
signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire. 
See Instructions for Short Form PA, http://www.copyright.gov/forms/formpas.pdf, Instructions for Short Form TX, http://www.copyright.gov/forms/formtxs.pdf, and Instructions for Short Form VA, http://www.copyright.gov/forms/formvas.pdf. The short form applications are 
one-sided, one-page applications which are simple to complete and 
simple to process.
    To be clear, the Office is not necessarily proposing a lower fee 
for short form paper applications. It may well make sense, in the 
interests of cost savings and efficiency, to restrict any lower-fee 
option to qualifying applications that are submitted online. Moreover, 
in some cases the short forms may be used to register collections of 
works by the same author-claimant, a situation that requires more 
examination and that may well not warrant a lower fee. And while there 
is currently no online equivalent of the short form applications, an 
online application by a single author/claimant of a single work will be 
much simpler to complete and to examine than a more complicated 
application. Thus, the apparent reduced cost of processing such 
applications would appear to justify a reduced fee vis-[agrave]-vis 
other kinds of registrations.
    The Office welcomes comments on not only whether, but also under 
what circumstances, a lower fee for individual authors may be justified 
and prudent. Among other issues, the Office is interested in hearing 
whether such an accommodation, if it adopted, should be offered only to 
qualifying applications that are submitted online, or whether it should 
also be offered to paper applications submitted using one of the short 
forms. Although the Office has outlined some particular scenarios 
above, it welcomes comments on other fact patterns, if not for 
immediate consideration this spring, for its ongoing analysis.

B. Other Special Services

    The Office seeks public comment on whether it should offer 
additional special services on a fee-for-service basis. For example, 
the Office has heard informal suggestions that some applicants wish to 
seek expedited registration and would be willing to pay a premium for 
such accommodation. The Office already offers expedited processing in 
the form of ``Special Handling'' for a higher fee (currently $760 per 
claim, in addition to the

[[Page 3508]]

regular filing fee), but such a service is available only in cases 
where a compelling need for the service exists due to pending or 
prospective litigation, customs matters, or contract or publishing 
deadlines that necessitate the expedited issuance of a certificate of 
registration. See 37 CFR 201.15. In Special Handling cases, ``every 
attempt is made to process the claim or recordation within five working 
days,'' see Circular 10, ``Special Handling,'' http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ10.pdf, although Special Handling 
applications are often processed in a shorter period of time.
    Some applicants appear to be willing to pay a higher fee in order 
to receive expedited processing in cases that do not qualify for 
Special Handling. Assuming that those requests could be accommodated 
without impact on the processing of ordinary applications for 
registration, the Office seeks comments as to whether offering such a 
service would be desirable. Presumably, the fee would be higher than 
the fee for Special Handling, since the policy justifications for 
Special Handling would be absent and the service would be offered as a 
premium service for those who are willing to pay more for expedited 
service. It should be noted that expedited services would not be 
available until all elements of the claim were fully received 
(application, deposit, fees); there could not be any unusual or complex 
issues with the claim, or issues requiring correspondence with the 
applicant, and paper claims would most likely take longer to process 
than those filed electronically, even under expedited circumstances.
    The Office also welcomes proposals for other special services that 
should be offered on a fee-for-service basis. The Office will consider 
all suggestions as it develops and seeks comments on its proposed fee 
schedule in the months to come.

    Dated: January 13, 2012.
Maria A. Pallante,
Register of Copyrights.
[FR Doc. 2012-1340 Filed 1-23-12; 8:45 am]