Stomping Out the Copyright Registration Challenge Varmint

Last week I gave a copyright registration presentation at the King County Bar Association Intellectual Property Section meeting:  Copyright Registration – Simple Forms Conceal Complex Legal Issues.

Copyright registration forms are designed so that they can be filled out without the help of an attorney.  We’re all adept at filling out forms.  But in the copyright registration context, I believe it’s important to take a long range view of the information we insert into the boxes.  Take authorship, for example.  If there’s a single author, authorship is not an issue.  But what happens when there are multiple authors, such as when an independent contractor creates code for a startup, but later becomes an employee of the startup?  Absent a written agreement addressing the issue, if the work being registered includes content from both the independent contractor period and the employee period, the person who wrote the code is a co-author with the startup.

My goal is to save the client’s time and money and attorney time by filling out copyright registration forms to minimize registration validity challenges.  My presentation describes what I believe are the major areas giving rise to copyright registration challenges:  The Work, Authorship, Ownership, Multiple work registrations, Publication, Derivative Works and Deposit.  I don’t claim that this is a definitive list.  To the contrary, I’m sure that it’s not.  But at least it’s a starting point to think about the ways in which copyright registrations can be challenged in litigation and to head those challenges off at the pass (reverting to my cowgirl roots).

Many thanks to Kate Spelman of K&L Gates for generously reviewing and commenting on my proposed presentation.

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