Tips for Overcoming a Copyright Denial

Copyright registration is a monumental step in securing creative work. Common law copyright automatically goes into effect to protect artistic works, but registering for copyright goes a step further and allows an owner of a creative work to obtain exclusive authorship rights. When the United States Copyright Office denies a copyright registration request, it can feel devastating. With the help of experienced copyright lawyers, such as the attorneys at Ritter Spencer Cheng, individuals and organizations denied a copyright can receive guidance to appeal and resubmit the work for review. 

Reasons for Copyright Denial

Knowing the reasons for copyright denial helps creative authors get approved with their first application or achieve a solution after getting denied.  

Copyright denial is often due to a simple error, like an incomplete application or ineligibility. Below are some of the most common reasons for rejection.

Application Issues

The applicant must finish the entire application, pay the full filing fee, and complete the deposit copy in the form of a physical or electronic embodiment of the work. Failure to complete these steps can make the applicant or application ineligible for review.

Work Needs a Different Form of Protection

The creative work may be better suited for a trademark or other form of intellectual property. For example, a trademark is typically more appropriate for a commercial phrase, slogan, or logo.

Work is Not Creative / Tangible / Human-Made

The creative work must meet the minimum creativity requirements, be human-made, and exist in a tangible form like a sound recording or a printed copy. 

Work is in the Public Domain

The creative work published before a specific date may exist in the public domain, depending on the format. Copyright laws may no longer protect it. 

Work is Not Eligible in the United States

If the author is not a United States citizen or published the work in a foreign nation, they will not meet copyright protection approval requirements. 

How to Submit a Copyright Review

When a copyright request is denied, a request for reconsideration needs to be sent to the United States Copyright Office within three months. The request should detail why the author believes their work deserves another review. This is an excellent time to seek legal counsel from a copyright lawyer to make a solid case. 

In the event of a second denial, the author may submit another request after three more months. The second request should also detail why the copyright should be approved, and it needs to address the reasons why the first request was denied. It should mention how those issues were resolved or explain any misunderstandings. 

If approved, the review board will set an Effective Date of Registration (EDR). If the board still refuses the approval, the creator can file a lawsuit with a United States District Court. 

Overturned Copyright Denial  

There are several reasons why a U.S. District Court might overturn the copyright denial. The court might overturn the decision of the United States Copyright Office if the original review board did not follow the law or based the denial on arbitrary opinions. The court may also overturn a copyright denial for initial misinterpretation of the author’s constitutional rights, a lapse in procedure, or no documented evidence of the conclusion that was reached. 

It is unlikely that, at this level, the courts will overturn the previous denials, but it is possible. An experienced copyright lawyer can help with the lawsuit and determine the best argument for a decision reversal.

Consult with a Copyright Lawyer 

Meet with a copyright lawyer to have the best chance of overturning the initial copyright rejection. An attorney can also help you get ahead before registering for copyright the first time by explaining the dos and don’ts of copyright registration. Contact us today at 214.295.5070 or