The Copyright Office is the federal agency responsible for administering federal copyright registrations and for promulgating rules relating to copyright issues. Housed within the Library of Congress, the Copyright Office maintains records of all registered works, as well as a searchable database where those conducting copyright clearance can search for registered copyrights. The Register of Copyrights is the head of the Copyright Office, and the current Register is Maria Pallante, who has held this position since 2011.

As a sub-unit of the Library of Congress, the Copyright Office falls within the legislative branch of government, and as a result the Copyright Office offers policy advice to Congress. When Congress requests it, the Copyright Office will advise and assist Congress in the development and implementation of national and international copyright policy. It is also responsible for drafting legislation, and preparing technical studies on copyright-related matters, for example, on proposed legislation relating to orphan works, i.e. works whose authors are not readily known, but are still subject to copyright protection.

Though not directly housed within the Copyright Office, but rather within the Library of Congress, the Copyright Royalty Board is another important component in the federal copyright law administrative bulwark. The Copyright Royalty Board is a panel of three copyright judges that set royalty rates and terms for copyright terms for statutory licenses. The Copyright Royalty Board also makes determinations on distribution of statutory license royalties collected by the U.S. Copyright Office. Thus the board is an instrumental part of what is known as the “mechanical royalty” system, whereby royalty rates for cable, satellite, webcast, and other mediums are pre-determined by the board.

For those that wish to stay abreast of Copyright Office developments, Copyright Office NewsNet, a free electronic mailing list, issues periodic email messages to alert subscribers to any hearings, deadlines for notice-and-comment periods, and regarding any new proposed regulations, publications, or other copyright-related subjects of interest.