While data and other facts do not qualify for copyright protection, their aggregation into databases can be registered in the United States Copyright Office if the selection, coordination and arrangement of data is original and contains at least a spark of creativity.
Some years ago the Copyright Office instituted an electronic application filing system (“eCO”) and made it available for databases comprising photographs. The public soon adopted eCO applications to register claims of copyright in other kinds of databases, and the Copyright Office went along. No more.
eCO applications to register all but photographic databases are temporarily unavailable while the Copyright Office focuses its software development efforts on upgrading eCO for photographic databases. Until the Copyright Office resumes accepting eCO applications for other kinds of databases, owners wishing to register their copyrights must do so using the traditional paper application known as Form TX.
Applicants pay a higher fee for Form TX applications: $85 rather than the $55 associated with an eCO filing, and processing can be delayed while the application wends its way to a registration specialist for examination.
There is good news. Applicants can shave time off the processing of their applications if they submit Form TX via a live courier or overnight carrier rather than U.S. mail.
U.S. mail addressed to the Copyright Office is redirected initially to a remote receiving facility, where it is irradiated for anthrax and sometimes, though rarely, destroyed. Individual couriers familiar with the Copyright Office can hand deliver applications on behalf of applicants. Overnight carriers are also effective.
A complete application, consisting of a Form TX, application fee and specimen materials, can be sent via such carriers to:
United States Copyright Office 101 Independence Avenue SE Washington, D.C. 20559-6000
Applications addressed and delivered this way, like those delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, are redirected to an offsite facility for inspection but not for irradiation. Processing is quicker. The carrier delivery date ultimately becomes the effective date of copyright registration.