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Copyright Registration System under fire – Part 1

Entertainment Lawyers are always quick to advise their clients to register copyrights in their work.  Today, however, a couple of issues have arisen that make me wonder if  the current US Copyright registration system isn't in trouble.

Major Backlog at the Copyright Office raises questions about the whole system.

First, the Washington Post reports that since the new Electronic Copyright Office registration system was launched, new copyright registrations are bogged down, with turnaround time for registration taking as long as 18 months, in some cases.  Reportedly, Copyright Office workers blame the productivity slowdown on glitches with the new system, which cost $52 Million to implement.  Meanwhile, managers at the Library of Congress (the parent agency of the copyright office) blame the slowdown on training issues, and staff resistance to the new system.

The new system was implemented in mid 2008, and the old paper-based system is being dismantled, but paper-based applications still represent nearly half of all registrations being submitted.  The trouble is, the paper is just piling up, with copyright office staff having difficulty finding time to do the manual data entry required for paper forms.

What does this mean for new copyright registrants?  According to one office official, the current backlog threatens the very intgrity of the copyright system in the U.S.  So, don't hold your breath waiting for a certificate.

The copyright office receives approximately 10,000 new registration applications each week.

hat tip to Tamera Bennett at the CreateProtect.c0m

in part 2 of this series, I discuss the disturbing constitutional questions about how the Register of Copyrights is appointed, and whether her acts (registering copyrights) are invalid… leaving authors without the full protection of copyright law.

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