Lost in the shuffle of the holidays was the U.S. Copyright Office’s adoption of a Final Rule clarifying the eligibility requirements for the Single Application, a simplified online registration option available to applicants who are both the sole author and owner of all rights in a single work that is not a work-for-hire. Although the Single Application has been around since 2013, on December 16, 2017, the Copyright Office released a new version of the Single Application that included certain enhanced features designed to improve the user experience, increase the efficiency of the examination, and reduce the correspondence rate for these types of copyright claims. In tandem with the introduction of the revised Single Application, the Copyright Office announced that it would be amending the applicable regulations to, among other things, clarify the eligibility requirements for the Single Application.
The Final Rule, published on December 27, 2018 and effective January 28, 2019, clarified, among other things, a key exception to the Single Application rules, permitting the Single Application to be used to register a single sound recording and the underlying musical work, literary work, or dramatic work, notwithstanding the fact that a sound recording and the work embodied in that recording are technically separate works under the framework of the Copyright Act. To qualify under the exception, the applicant must: (i) be the sole author of both the sound recording and the work embodied in that recording; (ii) own the copyright in both works; and (iii) be the only performer featured on the recording. The Final Rule also included guidance on the manner in which the Single Application is to be signed and submitted, and eliminated the “short form” version of the application.
Copyright owners who qualify for the Single Application should familiarize themselves with this recent guidance, lest they will unnecessarily complicate a procedure intended to streamline the registration process.