Updating the Copyright Office IT system to ease the process.

In years past, the registration of a copyright was not necessarily difficult, but it was a very long process.  While parts of the process could be done online in recent decades, there were still times when registration included physical “deposits” of submissions of registration requests, sometimes in person.  In the last five years the Copyright Office has begun transitioning to a totally digital system, expediting the process of copyright registration.

The Music Modernization Act came into effect in January of 2021.  Signed into law in October of 2018, this is considered the most significant update of copyright legislation reflecting technological developments in the distribution and use of music in today’s digital age.

To aid this modernization the copyright office sought input from the public regarding the administration and registration process, including public records and deposits required to register. 

This event spurred the Copyright Office to consider updates to the overall registration process providing modernized IT systems, called the Enterprise Copyright System (ECS), intended to ease the process of registration, recordation, public record, and licensing IT applications.  The new system’s features will be a consistent, user-friendly interface for users to navigate and internal office review and correspondence.

While the registration application process has been easing into their newly developed system for a few years, the public will now have access to the prototype for useability testing.  This is the beginning of an ongoing process to be followed by more updates as the registrant’s needs are discovered as they use the prototype.

Previously registration of copyright included a manual, paper-based process for both the registrant and the internal Copyright Office reviewers.  The new system will provide access to copyright records with enhanced search capabilities making it easier for registrants and the Copyright Office staff to validate the registration process. 

The first of three areas of the Copyright Office’s modernization include business intelligence (BI), the Office’s ability to use better the data provided by registrants.  It is expected that the BI program will facilitate ongoing improvement of the user experience by offering a trusted data repository to support the Copyright Office divisions in analyzing and making decisions.  The implementation of the BI should considerably speed up the process of registration over the historically slow process.

They have also created a Public Information Office (PIO) to help with inquiries from the public.  Still in formation, the Office anticipates using input from experts to improve analytics and streamline communications between the Office and the public.

This year the Office will transition to a warehouse management system (WMS) in a new storage facility.  The new system will optimize the operations and functionality, promoting more reliable and timely services.

Since 2018 the Copyright Office has been digitizing public records so that they are available in a modern, centralized system.

In addition to the modernization of technology, the Copyright Office has reviewed and is updating the organization, processes, and culture of the Office as it automates its workflow. 

I’m Francine D. Ward, Attorney-at-Law, helping YOU stay on the legal side of creative expression. Follow me on social media, and subscribe to my blog for weekly legal updates.

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Francine D. Ward
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