Do I have to use my legal name to register a work?
Response: You do not need to include your legal name in the registration record if you are registering an “anonymous work” or a “pseudonymous work.”
An anonymous work is defined by the Copyright Act as a work where “no natural person is identified as author” on the copies or phonorecords of the work. 17 U.S.C. § 101. If the author’s name appears on the copies or phonorecords, the work is not an anonymous work, even if the author does not wish to reveal his/her identity in the registration. In this case, the applicant should provide the author’s real name in the application. For further information on how to seek registration of an anonymous work, see Compendium (Third) § 615.1 at https://www.copyright.gov/comp3/.
A pseudonymous work is a work where “the author is identified under a fictitious name” on the copies or phonorecords of the work, such as a pen name, a stage name, or other pseudonym. Nicknames and other diminutive forms of legal names are not considered pseudonyms. Note, however, if the author’s real name appears anywhere on the copies or phonorecords of the work (including the copyright notice), the work is not pseudonymous. In this case, the applicant should provide the author’s real name in the application.
Answered by Rob Kasunic, Director of Registration Policy and Practices at the U.S. Copyright Office.
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