Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189

March 20, 1996

Copyright Office Begins Testing Digital Application and Deposit System

The U.S. Copyright Office has begun testing a new electronic system for receipt and processing of copyright applications, deposited works, and related documents that can be transmitted securely in digital form over international communications networks such as the Internet.

On February 27, a graduate student in the Computer Science Department of Carnegie Mellon University successfully transmitted a digital copy of her dissertation along with a copyright application form that she filled out on-line and "signed" using public key/private key encryption technology. Using the new test system, called CORDS (for Copyright Office Electronic Registration, Recordation, and Deposit System), the Copyright Office will complete its processing and issue a copyright certificate within a much shorter period of time than is now required.

"Once fully implemented, the CORDS system will aid both the Copyright Office and copyright owners by providing an efficient new registration and recordation mechanism," said Register of Copyrights Marybeth Peters. "It should also provide an effective source for the Library of Congress to acquire new publications in digital form for its growing National Digital Library Program."

As "the electronic library of the future," the Library's National Digital Library collections will include a wide variety of materials in digital form, including both older works converted from the Library's historic collections for educational purposes as well as new titles received in digital form via copyright. The new system will continue to be tested over the next few years as the Copyright Office works closely with a small number of representative copyright owners to register in digital form a limited number of selected titles in each class of copyrightable works, including unpublished and published books and serials, images and illustrations, maps, sound recordings, and videos.

CORDS has been under development since 1993 as a joint project with the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI) under a grant from the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). Associate Register for National Copyright Programs Mary Levering is coordinating development of CORDS for the Library of Congress.

The CORDS system will allow applicants to submit digitized applications and works via the Internet, using the latest version of Privacy Enhanced Mail, and to "sign" their submissions using public key/private key encryption technology. The Copyright Office will then verify the authenticity of these electronic submissions, debit fees from the applicants' Copyright Office deposit accounts, and return electronic acknowledgments or correspondence to the applicants. Individual digital works will be assigned unique identifiers, called "handles." The Office's secure digital repository will store these digital copyrighted works in a secure and verifiable manner, providing access to the works in accordance with the law and the terms and conditions established by copyright owners. Rights management information needed for licensing and permissions should be available much more quickly than ever before.

With the support of the Library of Congress and ARPA, CNRI is leading a national effort with the U.S. Copyright Office to develop an infrastructure for linking digital works in electronic libraries and other transaction-based systems. The design and availability of national and international registration and recordation systems are central requirements for a national digital library system. Rights management of digital works is also essential for electronic commerce, by enabling rights owners and users to identify and negotiate terms and conditions for accessing copyrighted digital objects. When linked to standardized naming conventions (handles), copyright registration permits creators and owners to record the existence of intellectual property in the form of digital objects, and for users to know that specified digital objects exist and how to locate them.

The U.S. Copyright Office has been a part of the Library of Congress since 1870. In addition to administering the copyright law, the office creates and maintains the public record of copyright registration, provides technical assistance and policy advice on copyright issues to Congress and executive branch agencies, offers information to the general public, promotes improved copyright protection for U.S. creative works abroad, and obtains deposits for the collections of the Library of Congress.

# # #

PR 96-38
ISSN 0731-3527

Back to top