How to Register Copyright in a Software Application: Part 2
Part 2 of a three-part article explaining how to register copyright in a software application using Form CO.
Registering Copyright Using Form CO: Part 2
This is a continuation of a three-part article on registering copyright on software programs. Here is a link to the first part: How to Register a Software Application Using Form CO Part 1: Completing Section 1.
Okay, we’re returning to Form CO, Section 2.
Section 2 - Author Information
2A** or 2B - Personal name/Organization name. Complete either 2A or 2B but not both. The person who created the work is the “author.” Provide your name, unless you wish to be anonymous or pseudonymous. A co-author is someone who, at the time the work was created, made a copyrightable contribution. Complete section 2B only if the software application is made for hire in which case the hiring party is the author.
Learn more about works for hire and employer-employee authorship/ownership of software programs.
2C - Doing business as. You can leave this blank unless you’ve transferred software application ownership to a company using a DBA.
2D - Year of birth & 2E - Year of death. Give the year the author was born (and deceased, if applicable). The year of birth is optional but is very useful as a form of author identification because many authors have the same name. Your birth date will be made part of the online public Copyright Office records and cannot be removed later.
2F - Citizenship⁄domicile. Check the U.S. box if applicable, or if the author is a citizen of another country, enter the name of this nation. Alternatively, identify the nation where the author is domiciled (resides permanently). If you wish to remain anonymous (unlikely for most software program developers) and your name is given in line 2A, it will be made part of the online public records produced by the Copyright Office and accessible on the Internet. This information cannot be removed later from those public records.
2H* - This author created. Here you check the appropriate box(es) that describe this author’s contribution to this software application. Use any of the boxes – for example, computer program, music, photography—that apply. If you want to add more, give a brief statement on the line after “other” and be specific. The Copyright Office recommends against using terms such as idea, concept, title, or name.
Section 3 - Copyright Claimant Information
3A** and 3B** - Personal name/Organization Name. Again, as with Section 2A and 2B, complete one or the other, but not both. Here we are listing the person or entity that owns the copyright—either the developer who created it, or the person or organization to which the copyright has been transferred by an author or other authorized copyright owner.
3C- Doing business as. You can leave this blank unless you’ve transferred software application ownership to a company using a DBA.
3D - Address, email, and phone. The claimant postal address will be made part of the online public Copyright records and cannot be removed later. However, the email address and phone number will not appear in the public record unless it is also included in section 5, Rights and Permissions Contact.
3E - Copyright ownership acquired by. If the claimant (the person claiming copyright ownership) is the same person as the author of the software application, skip this line. Transfer information is required if the claimant is not an author but has obtained ownership of the copyright from the author or another owner. In that case, check the appropriate box to indicate how ownership was acquired. When you check “Written agreement” that includes a transfer by assignment or by contract. “Will or inheritance” applies only if the person from whom copyright was transferred is deceased. If necessary, check “other” and give a brief statement indicating how copyright was transferred.
Section 4 - Limitation of Copyright Claim
Because many software programs are derived from some other source, it’s possible you will need to complete this section. Here is where you disclose whether the work contains or is based on previously registered or previously published material, material in the public domain, or material not owned by this copyright claimant. The purpose of section 4 is to exclude that material from the claim and identify the new material upon which the present claim is based.
4A - Material excluded from this claim. Check the appropriate box or boxes to exclude any previously registered or previously published material, material in the public domain, or material not owned by this claimant. For example, if you were registering a software program that contains a public domain image of Charles Dickens, you would enter “public domain image of Charles Dickens” in the “Other” box.
4B - Previous registration. If the software application for which you are now seeking registration, or an earlier version of it, has been registered, give the registration number and the year of registration. If there have been multiple registrations, you may give information regarding the last two. If you are registering the first published version of a software application that is identical to a previously registered unpublished version (contains no new material not already registered), check the “other” box in line 4a and state "First publication of work registered as unpublished." In this case, skip line 4c.
4C - New material included in this claim. Check the appropriate box or boxes to identify the new material you are claiming in this registration. Again, you are only filling in this section if your work contains material by someone else. In section 4C, your goal is to indicate what you contributed. Give a brief statement on the line after “other” if it is necessary to give a more specific description of the new material included in this claim or if none of the check boxes applies.
The Compilation box. A compilation is a collection of material—for example, a software program titled “10 Best Mac Tools”—in which someone assembled, selected or organized the preexisting programs into one jumbo software program without transforming any of them. The author of a compilation seeks to protect the collection, not the individual works. A collection of your software applications is usually not a compilation, because you’re seeking to protect all of the individual works, not the manner in which they are arranged or selected. A claim in “compilation” does not include the material that has been compiled. If that material should also be included in the claim, check the appropriate additional boxes.
If you regularly create new versions of your software you can file new applications for each, being careful to indicate the previous versions in Section 4. You’re probably best off only bothering with applications for major revisions.
You’ve completed two parts on how to register copyright on a software program. There’s one part left:
How to Register a Software Application Using Form CO Part 3: Completing Sections 5 through 8 of Form CO (And Mailing a Deposit).