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After all, anthrax can’t be sent over the internet

February 15, 2010 by
Filed under: Business, Copyright Articles 

Author:  Emily W., William & Mary Student Intern

To most of us, the anthrax scare of Fall 2001 is a distant memory.  But, almost nine years later, the government is still dealing with the fallout of this security breach.  The US Copyright Office, located near the Capitol and Congress in the heart of D.C., was one of many federal offices that were affected by the incident.  Since anthrax was discovered in mail on Capitol Hill, the Copyright Office has been required to screen and irradiate incoming mail as a precaution.   This process takes extra time and often damages the paper material that the office receives, thus creating a huge backlog of mail.

Luckily, we have 21st century innovations to help us solve such pesky problems.  The Copyright Office ( is now encouraging people to use their new electronic Copyright Office (eCO).  Beginning in 2008, the office gradually incorporated this new system. As of summer 2009 the office requires mandatory electronic filing of all claims, even those that are submitted in paper form as well.  This system is meant to help the office deal with its backlogs, but also to make the process easier for you.

There are a variety of benefits to using the eCO—for example, it will save you approximately 12 months of waiting for your claim to be processed and electronic form fees are $30 less than paper ones.  If you aren’t particularly computer savvy there is no need to worry.  The system is constantly being updated and becoming progressively more user-friendly.    There are template application forms for authors and claimants to use and all of the material is consolidated in one place under your eCO user ID.  You can also submit payment securely online and track the status of your application using eCO.  And, if you decide you need a copyright at 3 am on a Tuesday night, you can go ahead and begin the registration process right then.  There is no need to wait for the mailman to deliver your forms because eCO is up and running 24 hours a day, 6 days a week.   The Library of Congress still requires some materials such as books and periodicals to be filed in physical format- but the forms and shipping slips that go along with them are now available online for you to print out too.  The US Copyright Office also has applications for Digital Millennium Copyright agents (DMCA agents) for online service providers and those operating a website at

You can check out the new system at  This system is proving to be safer and more efficient for our government, and easier and cheaper for authors like you.  After all, anthrax can’t be sent over the internet.

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