Copyright Registrations: Who, What, When, Where, and Why

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  • August 3, 2015

The registration records at the U.S. Copyright Office provide a valuable lens on the use and performance of the copyright system, but have not yet been studied systematically. Using an original data set containing all 2.3 million registrations from 2008 to 2012, Professors Oliar, Pattison, and Powell provide a snapshot of current patterns of registration. In this article, they describe who is registering what, where, when, and why. Their main findings include the types of work being registered, how the registrations of individuals and firms differ, when works are being registered relative to their date of creation and date of publication, the age distribution of authors in different creative fields, and the geographic distribution and concentration of registration claimants.
The registration data collected and reported are superior to those relied upon in prior literature and should therefore prove useful to lawmakers and scholars wishing to measure the effect of copyright law on creativity or otherwise reform the copyright law of the United States.