Copyright Policy Practicum: Revising the Requirements for Computer Software Registration

For 2016-17, the Copyright Policy Practicum’s client, the United States Copyright Office, has requested that the Practicum team prepare a draft Notice of Inquiry, or possibly Final Regulation, to govern the Office’s registration of claims to copyright in computer programs. The issue has a prominent place on the Office’s current policy agenda.

As computer software, and the needs of its creators, distributors and users, have changed over the years since the regulations governing software registration and deposit were first promulgated, demand has increased for the existing regulations to be revised to better serve the interests of the software industry and of the public. Among other problem areas requiring attention is the need to reconcile the business interests of many software applicants in retaining trade secret status for portions of their code and the regulatory mandate for the deposit of a work’s “best edition.”

In Autumn Quarter, the Practicum team will devise and distribute survey instruments for the collection of views among all relevant groups of stakeholders. Team members will consult over the course of the Quarter with the Copyright Office’s Associate Register and Director of Registration Policy and Practice.

In Winter Quarter, Practicum team members will analyze the results of the survey and draft a Notice of Inquiry, or possibly a Final Regulation, to be issued by the Copyright Office as part of its effort to revise the software registration and deposit regulations. Again, students will consult with the Director of Registration Policy and Practice, and will participate in a briefing of pertinent Copyright Office staff on their final proposal.

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Client & Deliverables

Client: U.S. Copyright Office

Deliverables: Memos, White Paper, Draft Notice of Inquiry

Report: Revising the Requirements for Software Registration