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Q re U.S. Copyright registration:

I understand that by leaving blank the space asking for an author's (legal) name but indicating the author's pseudonym that the two names won't be linked and thus the correlation will not be made publicly available online or otherwise. That's what I understand.

I also understand that it is not wise to copyright solely under a pseudonym, as it can get rather tricky to prove that I (the legal 'I') am the author should any legal issue arise.

Now, if I were to use my legal name as the claimant do have my cake and eat it too, or are the terms 'claimant' and 'author' looked at as two separate things?

In other words, If my legal name is Bob Roberts and I leave blank the author name but say that the work is pseudonymous and use the name Bill Williams as the pseudonym, will my using Bob Roberts as claimant make it clear that my legal self is, in fact, the author?

  • Are you asking if you can use a pseudonym when suing someone? If so, most jurisdictions require the "legal name" of parties for the sake of avoidance of doubt as to the identity of the parties. – Shazamo Morebucks Sep 17 at 5:52
  • Please tag your jurisdiction, as the use of names is generally a procedural matter thus different jurisdictions may may have different rules. – Shazamo Morebucks Sep 17 at 5:53
  • I seem to be not getting my question across so well. I'm not sure what your jargon means, but I appreciate your efforts at answering. – nevertheless Sep 17 at 7:13
  • There are a few questions you need to clarify: what kind of "public records" are you asking about (e.g. Deeds to property, or copyright and patent registrations)? What do you mean by claimant? A claimant means someone who is suing someone else. Finally, what country's laws are you asking here, USA, UK etc? – Shazamo Morebucks Sep 17 at 8:31
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    "I understand that by leaving blank the space asking for an author's (legal) name [...]": You seem to be asking about a space on a specific form, but you haven't even told us what form you are talking about, or why you want to fill it out, or any other context. Please explain. – Nate Eldredge Sep 17 at 18:10
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When registering a copyright under US law, the claimant is the person who claims to own the copyright at the time of registration. This need not be the author. It could be a person or firm that the author had sold or given the copyright to, or the author's heir. It could be the employer of the person who created the work if a valid work-made-for-hire agreement applies to the work. But it is often the author.

Everything stated on an application for US copyright registration becomes a matter of public record, and may be posted on the Copyright office website or disclosed in Copyright Office searches.

The OP writes:

I understand that by leaving blank the space asking for an author's (legal) name but indicating the author's pseudonym that the two names won't be linked and thus the correlation will not be made publicly available online or otherwise.

That is not correct, or at least it is too strong. If the author's legal name is not listed on the registration application, then it will not be included as such on public copies of the registration, but if the author's name comes to the attention of the Copyright Office in some other way, it may be included in searchable Copyright Office records, depending on the exact details. The Office does not guarantee anonymity.

In any case, the name of the copyright owner will be public, and people may assume that this is the true name of the author, correctly or incorrectly.

It is very hard to publish a work, register a copyright on it, and enforce that copyright, collecting publication fees or royalties, while remaining strictly anonymous. Professional authors, some assisted by lawyers, have in some cases tried to do this and failed. The case of "James Triptree Jr" later revealed to be Alice Sheldon, and the case of "Sam Holt", revealed on publication to be Donald Westlake, comes to mind.

This answer deals with US copyright law. I suspect that the law in many other countries is similar, but i do not positively assert this.

  • Great answer, David. Lucid and helpful. Many thanks. – nevertheless Sep 18 at 12:10
  • @nevertheless If I am correct that you are trying to register a copyright in the US, please edit the question to say so explicitly. If you think this answer helpful, you can upvote it by clicking on the up-arrow. If it fully answers your question, you cna accept the answer by clicking the ckeckmark. – David Siegel Sep 18 at 13:03

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