Privacy when registering copyright

I’ve read the info on but am still confused about how to maintain privacy when registering a copyright.

Let’s say Jane Doe writes a story she wants to e-publish only, using amazon Kindle.

She wants to register the copyright while maintaining her privacy–her name/address/contact info not in the public record.

Must she use an “agent” such as attorney, LLC, what?

I’m interested in experiences with this process, esp anything to watch out for, “gotchas” etc–the information in below link under “Can I remove information that I don’t want publicized?” is confusing:

You can copyright using a pen name and post office box.

There is no need to file a copyright. Copyright protection exists from the moment the work is created. The copyright office defines this to be fixed in a tangible medium. I’m not positive the file saved on your computer is such, but if you print the file to paper it certainly is.

What registration does is provide important benefits including proof of ownership. If you just use a pen name, I guess you would have to have some proof the pen name is you. Copyright owners who register have additional remedies if their copyright is infringed, but again you’d need to have proof that the registrant is you, I’d think.

I don’t understand that last bit, about why to register. “Copyright protection is automatic”, but you can’t file suit against an infringement unless you have registered? What does the automatic “protection” consist of, if you can’t stop infringement of your work?

That’s just the way it is under U.S. law. Your original and creative work of expression is protected as soon as it is fixed in a perceivable medium. But a U.S. owner of a work can’t bring a claim in federal court without first registering the work.

It’s the compromise that Congress reached when the United States finally acceded to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works of 1886. The Berne Convention bars “formalities” for protection, but Congress wanted to maintain a registration system. So, the ability to sue as well as statutory damages and attorneys’ fees are the incentives for registration.

Note that non-U.S. persons may bring infringement claims in U.S. courts without registration.

Also note that mailing yourself a copy of your work (poor man’s copyright), or tagging the Copyright Office on your Tweet doesn’t give you any benefits of registration.

You actually can sue without registration, but you are limited to actual damages (which are extremely hard to prove) and to have the infringer cease using the work.

Once you register, they can be ordered to pay fines and legal fees.

The Circuits have historically disagreed on when copyright registration actually takes place for the purpose of litigation. The Eleventh, for instance, held that suing for statutory damages could only take place after the Copyright Office approved the application, while the Ninth held that applying for copyright registration was sufficient.

This year, the Supreme Court ruled that a certificate from the Copyright Office is necessary to begin litigation in most cases. However, they also noted that actual damages can be recovered for infringement that occurred before registration was complete.

What this means for writers–if you have not registered your copyright, you’ll have to do so before suing infringers for statutory damages. Since the process can take months–sometimes years–you should do that as soon as possible.

Remember that the statute of limitations for copyright infringement is only three years from when the claim accrues. There is, however, still some disagreement in the courts about whether the claim accrues upon commission or upon discovery.

This is not true under U.S. law. A U.S. copyright owner must have a registration hand before bringing a claim under the Copyright Act in a U.S. court.

Note that for many copyright owners, statutory damages and attorneys’ fees are really the only things that make a lawsuit worthwhile, so if you miss the five-year deadline for registration, you’ve lost something pretty important.

I am struggling to understand why the public doesn’t have the right to know the author’s identity.

Because they don’t. Why on earth would writing something mean that you lost your right to privacy?

You are registering it with a government agency. Many, if not most, interactions with the government become public record. For instance, filing a FOIA request makes the filer subject to a FOIA request in turn. The purpose of the Freedom of Information Act (and state public records laws) is transparency in government.

Because using pseudonyms is a long-standing practice among private citizens who have engaged in that most subversive of activities, writing. Whether the authors wish to reveal their identities and open themselves up to retaliation or danger is up to them.

I don’t know what the argument is here. The Copyright Office does allow you to use a pseudonym. But the details of your application are public. That’s as should be. You’re claiming a public right, not a private one. And the main purpose of registration is to notify the public of who is claiming copyright interest in works. It’s a fair trade to exchange the right for disclosure.

If you are so dedicated to subversive anonymity you are free to forego the protection of copyright. You can’t have everything.

Maybe it’s something embarrassing, like porn, that you don’t want your friends or family to know you write.

Maybe it’s fiction based on your own life experiences and relationships, and you want to protect the privacy of the other people who appear in your story.

Maybe your writing expresses political or religious opinions that you worry could get you in trouble at your job.

In short, the public good is better served by allowing pseudonyms on the registration than what would be gained by forcing authors to reveal themselves.

Yes, it is possible to copyright a work and maintain privacy. Yes, it involves lawyers. Ask an erotic literature authors’ forum for more information, and ask your local bar association for recommendations on a proper attorney.

Again, what’s the argument here? You can use a pseudonym on your application.

Since this is asking for professional advice on what appears to be a non-hypothetical situation, let’s move it over to IMHO.