pertaining to recorded documents are available for searching on the Copyright Office website. Images of registration applications and recorded documents are not available over the Internet. Certain older records may be viewed online.
Requesting Searches, Search Reports, and Copies
Upon request and for a fee, the Records Research and Certifi- cation Section will search recordation records, prepare search reports of the information contained in those records, and provide photocopies of documents. Because some materials are not stored on the immediate premises of the Copyright Office, it is advisable to consult with the Records Research and Certification Section in advance to determine the length of time necessary to produce the requested materials.
Inspecting and Copying Records In Person
To inspect or copy recorded documents and the records related to them in person, visit the Copyright Public Records Reading Room (lm-404), located in the U.S. Copyright Office, James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, DC. The reading room is open to the public from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm, eastern time, Monday through Friday, except federal holidays. Visitors to the read- ing room must first obtain a Reader Identification Card through the Library of Congress. For information on how to obtain a Reader Identification Card, click here or call 202- 707-5278.
Relevant Statutory Provisions from Title 17 of the United States Code
Section 101 § 101 · Definitions
A “transfer of copyright ownership” is an assignment, mort- gage, exclusive license, or any other conveyance, alienation, or hypothecation of a copyright or of any of the exclusive rights comprised in a copyright, whether or not it is limited in time or place of effect, but not including a nonexclusive license.
Section 204 § 204 · Execution of transfers of copyright ownership
A transfer of copyright ownership, other than by operation of law, is not valid unless an instrument of conveyance, or a note or memorandum of the transfer, is in writing and signed by the owner of the rights con- veyed or such owner’s duly authorized agent.
A certificate of acknowledgement is not required for the validity of a transfer, but is prima facie evidence of
Recordation of Transfers and Other Documents · 8
the execution of the transfer if—
in the case of a transfer executed in the United States, the certificate is issued by a person autho- rized to administer oaths within the United States; or
in the case of a transfer executed in a foreign country, the certificate is issued by a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States, or by a person authorized to administer oaths whose authority is proved by a certificate of such an officer.
Section 205 § 205 · Recordation of transfers and other documents
Conditions for Recordation.—Any transfer of copy- right ownership or other document pertaining to a copyright may be recorded in the Copyright Office if the document filed for recordation bears the actual signature of the person who executed it, or if it is accompanied by a sworn or official certification that it is a true copy of the original, signed document. A sworn or official certification may be submitted to the Copyright Office electronically, pursuant to regulations established by the Register of Copyrights.
Certificate of Recordation.—The Register of Copy- rights shall, upon receipt of a document as provided by subsection (a) and of the fee provided by section 708, record the document and return it with a certificate of recordation.
Recordation as Constructive Notice.—Recordation of a document in the Copyright Office gives all persons constructive notice of the facts stated in the recorded document, but only if—
the document, or material attached to it, specifically identifies the work to which it pertains so that, after the document is indexed by the Register of Copy- rights, it would be revealed by a reasonable search under the title or registration number of the work; and
registration has been made for the work.
Priority Between Conflicting Transfers.—As between two conflicting transfers, the one executed first pre- vails if it is recorded, in the manner required to give constructive notice under subsection (c), within one month after its execution in the United States or within two months after its execution outside the United States, or at any time before recordation in such manner of the later transfer. Otherwise the later transfer prevails if recorded first in such manner, and if taken in good faith, for valuable consideration or on the basis of a binding promise to pay royalties, and