Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Electronic Filing Of Copyright Applications Has Arrived (at least for beta testers)

I recently became a beta tester for the Copyright Office's electronic filing program. Yesterday I had the opportunity to file my first online application. First, I would like to thank Cynthia Hutchins at the Copyright Office for providing such fantastic service. Cynthia is my contact for the beta testing program and has been extremely helpful.

I admit I'm spoiled. Doing quite a bit of trademark prosecution I have become very comfortable with the electronic filing systems at the USPTO. The Copyright Office system is not as user friendly as the USPTO system. Although I only had a few problems, the new system is somewhat clunky. Don't get me wrong, this is a very exciting development for anybody who regularly files applications.

The application that I filed was for an unpublished collection of jewelry designs (in the near future there will be a charge for each contents title). It went fairly smoothly, but I'm very glad that I spoke with Cynthia regarding some of the details prior to filing.

I only have two significant complaints.

At the end of the application I was asked if I was going to be uploading the works, or mailing them to the Copyright Office. I selected the upload option. The next page asked if I was ready to check out. No mention of uploading. I thought I missed a page where I should have uploaded the works. I did not want to pay the filing fee only to discover that no works were included with the application. Here's where a call to Cynthia came in. It turns out you have to pay first, and then you are taken back to the form to upload the works. Unfortunately there is no indication of this anywhere in the interface. Very confusing.

I also had a problem printing the "Claim Detail" page after filing. This page contains all the information that was filled out in the application. I did receive two email receipts, one for the application and one for payment, but neither contained a summary of all fields that were filled in. When printing the Claim Detail page, either to hard copy or pdf, the field from the last half of the application all overlapped. I am not ruling out a problem on my end, and I will experiment more.

Overall, I was very pleased. Hopefully the system will receive a full public release in the very near future.

Follow up:

I do want to mention one other interesting part of the online form. An applicant is now able, though not required, to include information regarding a contact for rights and permissions. The goal is clearly to facilitate licensing. We'll have to wait and see to gauge its effectiveness.



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