Copyright Registration: What is “Special Handling?”

3 minute read
In copyright protection, the mysticism behind the necessity for “special handling” can create skepticism among clients until its functionality as a strategic tool is unveiled. Here we will demystify “special handling” by explaining what it is, recapping the standard copyright registration process in relation, and the value it provides creators.
Submission Requirements for the Standard Copyright Process

The U.S. Copyright Office requires submission of (1) a properly completed application (2) a nonrefundable filing fee and (3) a nonrefundable deposit. 

Requisites of a Properly Completed Application
  • Completion of a profile with the eCO at eco.copyright.gov
  • Initiation of a new application by or on behalf of the author of the copyrighted work, a copyright claimant, or an owner of one or more exclusive rights by clicking “Register Work” which will then require the: 
    • Identification of the type of work being registered.
    • Identification of the title of the work, together with any previous or alternative titles under which the work can be identified.
    • Identification of whether the work has been published. 
    • Identification of the work’s “author” and the copyright “claimant.” 
    • (if the work is derivative) identification of the new material and any preexisting materials that should be excluded from protection.
    • Identification of the mailing address where the certificate of registration should be delivered.
Required Filing Fee 

The filing fee for a standard application is $65 and may be paid online at pay.gov. 

Required Deposit of Work 

For the deposit of work, the applicant must submit the required number of copies or phonorecords of either the first published or the "best edition" of the work depending on the nature of the work.

What is “Special Handling”?

Special handling is a procedure for expediting the examination of an application to register a claim to copyright or the recordation of a document pertaining to copyright for an additional fee of $800 per claim. 

To request special handling, the applicant must state the reason for the expediency either online, in person, by courier, or by mail. The request may be made when the application or document is submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office or any time before the Office issues a certificate of registration or a certificate of recordation.

When requesting special handling for an application, the Office strongly encourages applicants to complete an online application and upload an electronic copy of the work if the work is eligible for submission in an electronic format. 

During the submission of an application by using the electronic registration system, the applicant may request special handling by completing the fields that appear on the Special Handling screen. 

Like, the standard copyright registration process, the request for special handling must then be certified by an author of the work, the claimant named in the application, an owner of one or more of the exclusive rights in the work, or a duly authorized agent of one of the aforementioned parties. The certifying party should then check the certification box to confirm the information provided in the request for special handling is correct.

When is “Special Handling” recommended”?

“Special Handling” is recommended generally when pending or prospective litigation exists, for custom matters, and when contract or publishing deadlines necessitate the expedited issuance of a certificate.

Once the request is approved, the Office will attempt to complete the examination within five working days followed by the issuance of a certificate of registration.

With this expediency, special handling has the power not only to accelerate copyright protection, but to safeguard your projected earnings, time, and intellect from competitors.

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