What Happens to the Copyright Office if the Government Shuts Down?


As it stands, the federal government is set to shut down tonight at midnight for the first time since 2013. But what happens to the U.S. Copyright Office if the government shuts down?

Dozens of agencies updated their contingency plans at the end of last year in preparation for a potential shutdown, but that does not appear to be the case for the Library of Congress, whose most recent furlough plan was published just prior to the shutdown of 2013. While the Library did publish a brief advisory regarding the looming shutdown, explaining that copyright.gov will still be available, under the 2013 Plan, the Copyright Office could not process registration applications or recordation documents, nor could it issue certificates of registration or recordation.

The Office could, however, still provide the following services:

  • direct support to Congress on copyright-related policy, legislative and administrative matters, and would keep the eService registration portal open so that filers may secure the earliest possible effective date of registration on claims filed
  • subject to network and other systems support provided by ITS, the Copyright Office eService registration portal would remain open so that filers may secure the earliest possible effective date of registration on claims filed. Incoming paper application submissions would also be date marked.

It’s unclear exactly which services will remain available if the shutdown happens tonight, but the 2013 plan provides at least some guidance.

Update: In response to this blog post, the Copyright Office clarified the following via twitterIf the government shuts down, we will continue to accept online registration submissions for the purpose of securing date of receipt. However, our offices will be closed, and we won’t be processing applications.

Photo Credit: TylerFairbank/iStock/thinkstock

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