Copyright Preregistration: Evidence and Lessons from the First Seven Years, 2005-2012

68 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2013 Last revised: 4 Feb 2014

See all articles by Dotan Oliar

Dotan Oliar

University of Virginia School of Law

Nicholas Matich

University of Virginia

Date Written: January 2014


In 2005 Congress created a new copyright formality: preregistration. Preregistration addresses a growing phenomenon in which copyrighted works are leaked to the Internet prior to official release. Preregistering a work allows copyright owners immediate access to courts and an expanded menu of remedies.

Based on an originally constructed dataset coupled with user interviews, we study how preregistration has been used from its 2005 inception to the end of 2012. Over 6,000 works have been preregistered in six eligible categories. Several lawsuits were filed in reliance on preregistrations. Most preregistrations are of motion pictures and literary works. Substantial commercial use of the system has been limited to the movie and TV industries. The music, publishing, and computer software industries virtually have not used it in the ordinary course of business. A few particular users have preregistered a great number of works. Different from the use anticipated by Congress, preregistrations were often obtained after infringement (or even a business dispute) had already started. Most preregistrations were made by individual, small-entity, or other one-time users.

The Article recommends that: (1) the duration of preregistrations should be limited; and (2) preregistration (and other copyright) fees should vary with entity size. It offers lessons for formalities and copyright reform: (1) Digital-age formalities may not give rise to the distributional concerns that characterized old formalities; (2) newly minted formalities may limit, rather than expand, access to expressive works; (3) the rates of subsequent registration of preregistered works vary across categories and can inform copyright lawmaking; and (4) the Copyright Office’s views may be affected by its institutional interest.

Keywords: copyright law, preregistration, formalities, data, intellectual property, empirical

JEL Classification: K29, O34, L82

Suggested Citation

Oliar, Dotan and Matich, Nicholas, Copyright Preregistration: Evidence and Lessons from the First Seven Years, 2005-2012 (January 2014). 55 Arizona Law Review 1073 (2013), Virginia Law and Economics Research Paper No. 2014-03, Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2014-06, Available at SSRN:

Dotan Oliar (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-924-3219 (Phone)

Nicholas Matich

University of Virginia ( email )

1400 University Ave
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics