Photographers have long been able to utilize the copyright system for registering groups of photographs for a single registration fee, now $55.00. It has to be one of the best bargains in the IP world. Registration gives photographers and other authors of original content access to federal courts, a presumption of validity, a public record of ownership and customs protection.
To register multiple photos (e.g., a “photo shoot”) the registration must qualify as an unpublished “collection” and comply with the following requirements:
(1) The elements are assembled in an orderly form;
(2) The combined elements bear a single title identifying the collection as a whole;
(3) The copyright claimant in all of the elements, and in the collection as a whole, is the same; and
(4) All of the elements are by the same author, or, if they are by different authors, at least one of the authors has contributed copyrightable authorship to each element.
Unfortunately, the advantages of a group copyright registration have not been available for published short-form literary works, such as blog posts, news articles and short literary content. All that has changed as of June 22, 2020 when the Copyright Office issued regulations permitting the registration of short online literary works. To qualify each work must:
- contain at least 50 but no more than 17,500 words;
- the works must be created by the same individual, or jointly by the same individuals;
- each creator must be named as the copyright claimant or claimants for each work; and
- the works must all be published online within a three-calendar-month period.
An author may submit as many as 50 works with one application fee of $65.00. Also, applicants must use a specially designated application entitled “Short Online Literary Works.” According to the new regulations, the Copyright Office will examine each work to determine if it contains sufficient amount of creative authorship. If so, and the registration issues, each work will be covered by copyright as a separate work.
This is truly awesome for bloggers and other online authors who were shut out of the copyright system by reason of the expense of registering multiple works. Buyers beware however, along with access to the copyright system, authors will have the burden of protecting their copyrights and, on the opposite side of the coin, infringers are likely to see cease-and-desist letters and lawsuits in growing numbers.
If you’re a blogger, don’t wait and, if you need assistance or advice, we can help.
–Adam G. Garson, Esq.
*Originally posted on July 16, 2020