Following in the footsteps of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the Copyright Office is now facing long delays and mounting backlogs in its attempts to keep up with the flood of new applications for copyright registration. This backlog has prolonged the wait time for applicants to have their registration processed from 6 to 18 months, and unsurprisingly, there are a number of upset applicants.

Ironically, this backlog seems to stem from the implementation of a new $52 million electronic processing system that was supposed to speed up the process of registration. One source of the problem is the electronic system itself–it is slow and unreliable, and the staff members have to be trained to use the new system. However, a larger problem, according to the employees of the office, is the applicants’ use of paper applications rather than electronic ones, as about 45 percent of the applications are still in paper form.

The processing of paper applications is tedious and time-consuming for the office because staff members must manually input the information into the electronic system, and the time that is given to dealing with the paper applications is time taken away from processing the electronic applications.

As a partial solution to this dilemma, the Copyright Office has announced that effective August 1, it will be increasing the fees for paper applications to $65 from $45 while maintaining the electronic filing fee at $35.

Though copyright registration is not necessary to garner copyright protection, it is necessary in order to sue someone for copyright infringement and to gain a number of other benefits. Most of the big companies will not face any problems on this front because they can afford to pay the $685 fee expediting the handling of registration. However, individuals without those types of resources that are applying for registration will undoubtedly continue to be frustrated by the backlog until this problem can be resolved.

– Christine You

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