The U.S. Copyright Office

  • Paramount Pictures Corporation holds co-copyright on David Foster Wallace’s “Host.”
  • Nicholson Baker’s first two records, registered in 1981, were for two stories: “Snorkeling” and “K.590.” Both stories have not been collected. But the former appeared in The Little, v. 13, no. 1 and 2, p. 74-81. The latter appeared in the December 7, 1981 issue of The New Yorker.
  • George Romero has been busier than you think. Romero is understandably meticulous about copyright — perhaps because Night of the Living Dead was, quite famously, issued without a copyright and entered into the public domain. I’m extremely curious about what 1994’s Jacaranda Joe might have been. There is no reference in the IMDB. This was a 23 page script — presumably for a half hour anthology series. Actor Andy Ussach even has a picture of him and Romero “during the Jacaranda Joe filming.” So if something was shot, was it simply not completed?
  • Did Good Man Park author a book on psychological self-defense? This might explain his exclamation marks!
  • Will Stanley Kubrick’s Lunatic at Large be turned into something? The entry reads: “Statements re transfer space, address & corres.” More info on this lost treatment here.
  • Is it the same Tao Lin who wrote Overconfidence and Asset Prices?
  • A screenplay written by Pablo Guirado Garcia called I Pass Like the Night: Serial Fucker based on the Jonathan Ames book?
  • I’m curious about Neal Pollack’s play, Chicago on the Rocks. Was it performed?
  • I have typed in about twenty-two women into this search engine, but I have unearthed nothing lost or unknown. I find the gender disparity troublesome.
  • I could be here all night. Really, I could. There are mysterious works here that were never published or saw the light of day. Some of the copyright documents have mysterious exhibits attached, and I imagine that this is not necessarily the diligence of a cutthroat attorney hoping to protect his client’s interests, but that some of these writers offering eccentric riders to their manuscripts for those who take the trouble to go down to Washington to examine these documents in person. A bonus for anyone wishing to go the extra mile — a consolation prize for the truly obsessed.
  • There must be other copyright obsessives out there right now. Perhaps their partners are now in bed and they find the same solace I do typing in search terms into the WebVoyage interface. They may have the same admiration for the neat organization, the helpful annotations throughout the database (“Notes: play”), the specific dates, the letter code which precedes each copyright number (TX for text, V for recorded document, PAu for dramatic work and music; or choreography), and, like me, they may be pondering why the recorded documents have two sets of numerals (VxxxxDxxx).
  • Then again, if you work at the Copyright Office, the taxonomic structure with which I am now finding some strange appeal would likely become insufferable. The same way that a file clerk mindlessly puts away files and, in the worst of cases, doesn’t even have the benefit of music. I suddenly have great sympathy for the folks who work at the Copyright Office, particularly those who must ensure that the records are put away accurately. And yet it is the top-tier executives who we pay more money.
  • Did the clerks have any say in the way this system was set up? Or were they at the mercy of middle managers who insisted that V had to represent “recorded document?”
  • Furthermore, how much time was devoted to typing in all of this data into a computer? Is it really worth the $45 registration fee for all that pain? Or are the top men at the Copyright Office getting a good chunk of that cheddar? Perhaps the clerk spent three minutes typing all of the necessary data into the Copyright Office computer. That means that the clerk should rightly be earning $900/hour. But such an hourly rate is inconceivable. So where does this extra money go?
  • I think I will copyright a few things this year myself.


  1. About 10 years back, I did a lengthy intvw. with Romero, and though he hadn’t had a film out in awhile, he had a ton of projects in the works, including a television pilot called W*H*I*Z KIDS, about a local TV station, a supernatural romantic comedy titled FLYING HORSES that Martin Scorsese has agreed to executive produce, and – most interestingly – an intense, Romeroesque version of WAR OF THE WORLDS. None of them ever went anywhere though.

  2. NB: Baker’s “K.590” can be found in the Best American Short Stories of 1981 or ’82 (however they date those)…It’s the story he talks about in U&I.

  3. Weirdness is going to the Copyright Office site, putting in your last name – not Douglas – and finding out your first cousin who you thought did nothing but sell office space in Joisey copyrighted MSS of three novels a decade ago.

  4. A book about writing in my possession said to never, never give
    up the copyright on anything that you’ve written. That makes sense. So far, I only have one thing copyrighted. However, I’m planning like Ed to get some
    more things of mine so blessed.

  5. This site is probably dead, but I’ll add my two cents anyways. Jacaranda Joe was a film project at Valencia College that had apparently hired Mr. Romero as that year’s special teacher. It was a movie about sasquatch. My a$$h*le husband and I as well as another friend appear as extras in the film. I have a picture that I will have to dig up of A-hole and George Romero and I.

    I remember my husband trying to pitch a fourth NOTLD movie to him, but he said that he was doing the Mummy and something involving Universal Studios in Orlando and that he had already planned the fourth movie so he politely refused.

    Well at least A-hole got his first edition paperback copy of Dawn of the Dead autographed…

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