Copyright Office Announces Temporary Changes to Certain Timing Provisions for Persons Affected by the COVID-19 Emergency
April 3, 2020
By Charles F. Hauff Jr. and Jeffrey D. Morton
On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which authorizes the Register of Copyrights to temporarily adjust timing provisions in the Copyright Act if determining that a national emergency is generally disrupting the normal operation of the copyright system. The Acting Register has exercised 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. This article summarizes important copyright-related aspects of the CARES Act.
The CARES Act provides extraordinary relief for copyright owners. Under section 412 of the Copyright Act, a copyright owner generally is eligible to be awarded statutory damages in an infringement action only if the work is registered prior to the infringement or within three months of the work’s first publication. The effective date of registration is the date when the Copyright Office receives the application, deposit and fee. The Acting Register under the CARES Act adjustment will extend the three-month window for applicants who can show that they were unable to comply due to the emergency because, for example, 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 also provides accommodations for persons who are prevented from serving or recording notices of termination within statutorily required time periods. Similarly, the affected persons likewise must provide a certification that they would have met the deadline but for the national emergency.
Further information can be obtained from the Copyright Office website concerning Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic: copyright.gov/coronavirus/