01 July 2008

New Copyright Registration System Live

It's alive... or, at least, it's on teh interthingy.

The US Copyright Office's new eCO system for online and online-assisted registration is now live. Highlights:

  • No matter what certain sites say, this does not change any of the legal rules concerning registration. This changes only the mechanism (and, in many instances, reduces the cost) of actually doing the registration. You still have copyright from the moment a work is "fixed." You still need registration to get into court concerning a copyright. The "poor man's copyright" (mailing it to yourself) is still just as worthless as it was in 1910, and the private "registries" are just as worthless for protecting your copyright as they have always been (distinct from WGA registration, which is related to payment and credits for screen- and teleplays only, and has nothing to do with copyright).
  • Although they're not yet completely obsolete, the traditional forms TX, VA, PA, SR, and SE are clearly on the way out, being replaced by the new form CO (which is what one fills out online).
  • The system isn't all that well adapted to Firefox, so for the present I recommend using IE7. Mac users might well be out of luck — Safari is specifically tagged as "not certified."
  • For what the Copyright Office calls "basic registrations," using eCO costs $10 less than the traditional system.
  • Unfortunately, group registrations of published material from multiple sources (such as an author's output over the last quarter) are not yet supported by eCO. This is supposedly coming by the end of the year, but that has not been confirmed yet by an official source.

You can find more detail in the FAQ and practice tips.