Library of Congress’ Latest Tech Stumble: Copyright System Down for a Week

Orhan Cam/

The online system used to electronically register copyrights has been out of commission for nearly a week.

Updated Sept. 8: The U.S. Copyright Office now says its online registration system is back up and running. A system failure following routine maintenance shuttered the online copyright registration system for more than a week. The "electronic Copyright Office” came back online in the early morning on Sunday.

The online system used to electronically register copyrights has been out of commission for nearly a week after maintenance on a Library of Congress building caused equipment failure.

The Copyright Office’s online registration system has been inaccessible since Aug. 29, when a data center at the Library of Congress’ James Madison Building was shut down for routine maintenance. Since the power was turned back on, the agency has been unable to restore access to the online registration system.

“Efforts continue around the clock to return the affected systems to service,” said Gayle Osterberg, director of communications for the Library of Congress, in an email to Nextgov. The Copyright Office is a part of the Library of Congress.

Anyone wanting to submit preliminary copyright claims will have to wait until access is restored. Or they will have to use the office’s paper form version, the processing of which could take up to 13 months -- almost twice as long as the online forms, according to the office's website.

The "electronic Copyright Office," or eCO, was launched in 2008, as part of a re-engineering initiative. It allows the public to register basic claims to copyright, such as literary pieces, visual arts and sound recordings.

Users who have already registered a claim using eCO may also face some delays. Checking the status of a claim involves logging into the eCO system, according to the office's website.

“We regret the inconvenience to our users and are working to resolve the problem as quickly as possible while maintaining the integrity of the systems,” Osterberg said.

This is not the first time the Library of Congress has struggled with IT problems.

In March, a Government Accountability Office report detailed the wide array of technology failings associated with the world’s largest library.

“The library does not have a comprehensive process for tracking its IT spending and does not have an accurate inventory of its IT assets,” the report stated.