Copyright Office Announces Temporary Changes to Certain Timing Provisions
Written April 2, 2020
On March 27, 2020, the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which authorizes the Register of Copyrights to temporarily adjust timing provisions in the Copyright Act if she determines that a national emergency is generally disrupting the normal operation of the copyright system. The Acting Register is exercising this authority to adjust certain deadlines relating to copyright registration and notices of termination in specific cases for persons unable to comply due to the COVID-19 national emergency.
For copyright registrations, the adjustment allows affected copyright owners to receive additional time to register a work in order to be eligible for certain remedies in infringement actions. Under the Copyright Act, statutory damages and attorney’s fees are generally available only if a work is registered before the infringement or within three months after first publication. The Acting Register will extend the three-month window for applicants who can show that they were unable to comply due to the emergency—for example, because they could not mail physical materials or lacked access to a computer. To qualify, an applicant must submit a statement certifying under penalty of perjury that they would have met the deadline but for the national emergency.
The adjustment provides similar accommodations for persons who are prevented from serving or recording notices of termination within statutorily required time periods. These persons likewise must provide a certification that they would have met the deadline but for the national emergency.
The Acting Register’s announcement is available at copyright.gov/coronavirus/, which also provides general information about Copyright Office operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Copyright Office Public Information Office is available for questions through our website at copyright.gov/help/ or at (202) 707-3000 or 1-877-476-0778 (toll free).