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Copyright preregistration

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Overview Edit

The Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005 (FECA)[1] created a new procedure, known as copyright preregistration, intended to address some problems with works that are pirated before their lawful publication or official release by the copyright owner.[2] Preregistration is available for certain types of work judged by the Copyright Office to be especially vulnerable to piracy before their lawful release or publication.[3] These include motion pictures, musical compositions and sound recordings, computer software and videogames, literary works, and "advertising and marketing photographs."[4]

How it works Edit

A copyright owner can preregister these types of works if they are unpublished, but "being prepared for commercial distribution," meaning that the copyright owner has a reasonable expectation that the work will be commercially distributed to the public, and the work, if not finished, has at least been commenced.[5] Upon submission of an application and fee, the Copyright Office undertakes a limited review of the work, and if approved, preregisters the work and issues a certificate, much as in the case of copyright registration.[6] Preregistration is available only online using the eCO (electronic Copyright Office electronic system).

Preregistration is not a complete substitute for registration. Although preregistration allows an "action for infringement" to be "instituted" under 17 U.S.C. §411(a), preregistration, unlike registration, involves only a cursory review by the Copyright Office and consequently preregistration will not serve as prima facie evidence of the validity or ownership of a copyright.[7]


  1. Pub. L. No. 109-9 (2005).
  2. See Pub. L. No. 109-9, §104, 119 Stat. 218, 221-22 (Apr. 27, 2005); 17 U.S.C. §408(f) (setting forth basic rules for preregistration), §411(a) (preregistration or registration necessary to institute infringement action in most cases); 37 C.F.R. §202.16 (Copyright Office rules for preregistration).
  3. See 37 C.F.R. §202.16.
  4. Id.
  5. Id. §202.16(b)(2).
  6. Id. §202.16(c).
  7. Id. §202.16(c)(6), (7), (13).

See also Edit

External resources Edit

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