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Copyright Tutorial

What to do if your registration is rejected

It is possible that the Copyright Office will reject your request for copyright registration. It’s their call. Section 410(b) of the current copyright law states that if the Register of Copyright determines the material deposited for registration “does not constitute copyrightable subject matter or that the claim is invalid for any other reason”, the Copyright Office can refuse registration.


If your registration deposit is refused, the Copyright Office must notify you in writing and they must provide you with the reasons for their rejection. If you feel the rejection has been wrongly or unjustly made, you have the right to appeal this decision.


The appeal process is not difficult, but it’s not cheap, either: The fee for a first appeal is $250, plus $25 “for each related claim after the first for a group of related works on which one appeal is filed.” It is worth noting that when making this type of appeal, or dealing with any other legal issues, the assistance of an attorney with specific experience in such matters may be well worth the added expense.


The most recent revision of the reconsideration rules appeared in the Federal Register for December 28, 2004. The most important change is that second appeals go to the same address as first appeals (formerly, there was a separate address).

The process to make a first appeal is:


  1. Make your appeal in writing, setting forth the reasons why you feel an error has been made and why your deposit merits registration. Include the words “First Reconsideration” in the subject line of the first page.


  3. Enclose your check or money order.


  5. Address the letter to: RECONSIDERATION, Copyright R&P Division, P.O. Box 71380, Washington, DC 20024-1380. (See note below for courier and hand delivery.)


  6. Be sure to mail it in sufficient time so that it arrives in the Copyright Office no later than 120 days after the date of the Office’s refusal to register. Require a receipt for the delivery.


After reconsideration, it is possible that the Copyright Office will refuse your registration again. You have the right to a second appeal. The second appeal process is essentially the same as the first appeal, except for these particulars:


  1. The fee for a second appeal is $500, with an additional fee of $25 for each related claim, similar to the first appeal.


  2. The second appeal must be received by the Copyright Office within 120 days of the date on which your first appeal was refused.


  3. The letter requesting a second appeal goes to the same address as the first appeal. But the first page of the document must have “Second Reconsideration” in its subject line.


There is no third appeal.


Courier and hand delivery. If hand delivered by a commercial, non-government courier or messenger, a request for reconsideration must be delivered between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. to: Congressional Courier Acceptance Site, located at Second and D Streets, NE., Washington, DC. If hand delivered by a private party, a request for reconsideration must be delivered between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. to: Room 401 of the James Madison Memorial Building, located at 101 Independence Avenue, SE., Washington, DC.


Nonetheless, the envelope should still be addressed, as if it were being mailed, to: RECONSIDERATION, Copyright R&P Division, P.O. Box 71380, Washington, DC 20024-1380.


Next: What To Do If Your Work Is Infringed