Thomas Placzek


The time has come to relieve the ambiguity created by the continued lack of consensus regarding the proper interpretation of 17 U.S.C. § 411(a). The persistent split amongst the various Federal Courts regarding the meaning of § 411(a)’s registration requirement allows some fortunate artists to immediately enforce their rights in a number of jurisdictions, while artists from other jurisdictions are prohibited from immediately enforcing the same rights. Several circuit and district courts subscribe to the “application approach,” while others employ the “registration approach.” This comment delves into the rationale behind the respective approaches, and discusses the arguments made for and against each one. In the end, this comment will ultimately highlight and advocate in favor of the seemingly superior features of the “application approach.” Additionally, this Comment also addresses the importance of adopting an efficient, uniform interpretation of § 411(a) that alleviates the uncertainty that plagues this portion of the Copyright Act. This comment suggests that the proper cure for this ambiguity lies in an enhanced application approach, coupled with a claimant’s obligation to amend her complaint at bar following the Copyright Office’s decision regarding a pending application for registration.