Good Tip on Registering Groups of Photographs

Steve Martin - © 2010 David Oppenheimer

Steve Martin – © 2010 David Oppenheimer

Most photographers realize the importance of registering the copyrights to your photographs. What’s also important is to register them correctly and to maximize the potential for damages if infringed.

David Oppenheimer is a professional photographer who shoots a lot and regularly registers his work. David recently reviewed the Compendium, including where it discusses statutory damages:

For example, when a website consisting predominantly of photographs is registered as a compilation, a court may issue only one award of statutory damages for all the photographs covered by that registration. That is not necessarily the case, however, if the photographs are (i) unpublished and are registered as an unpublished collection (if no selection or arrangement is claimed), or (ii) are published and are registered using the group registration option for groups of published photographs. See 37 C.F.R. § 202.3(b)(4), (b)(10). Thus, if the applicant only intents (sic) to register individual works on a website, such as an unpublished collection of photographs the applicant may want to include a statement in the application that the claimant claims no authorship in the selection, coordination, and/or arrangement of works within the website. When completing an online application this statement may be provided in the Note to Copyright Office field. 

Compendium Section 1008.7

David therefore included this note with his most recent registration of unpublished photos:

Individual works are being registered as an unpublished collection with no authorship claimed to the selection, coordination, and/or arrangement of the individual unpublished works being registered.

The registration specialist at the Copyright Office told him it was a good idea.  Way to go, David!

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U.S. Copyright Office World IP Day Program on April 26

For the fifth year in a row, the U.S. Copyright Office will join with the Copyright Alliance for a Copyright Matters program in recognition of World Intellectual Property Day. This year’s theme, as announced by the World Intellectual Property Organization, is “Digital Creativity: Culture Reimagined.” The program will take place on Tuesday, April 26, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. (EDT) in the Mumford Room (6th Floor, James Madison Memorial Building, Library of Congress).

The program will feature remarks from Congressman Bob Goodlatte, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, and Keith Kupferschmid, chief executive officer of the Copyright Alliance. The program will celebrate creativity as it presents itself in our interconnected digital world. It also will highlight established creators who have mastered their crafts and who have created innovative revenue streams to pay fellow creators fairly. The panelists will share their thoughts about the value of copyright law in our digital world and provide suggestions on “what’s next.”

Event panelists include:

Jared Geller, executive producer of the open-collaborative production company HITRECORD. Anna Metcalfe, ceramic artist and founder of the wedding registry Gather, which enables guests to give local art for wedding gifts. Chase Jarvis, photographer and founder and chief executive officer of CreativeLive, the world’s largest live streaming education company focused on photography, video, design, music, and entrepreneurship education.

Internationally celebrated on April 26, World Intellectual Property Day marks the date in 1970 when the World Intellectual Property Organization Convention came into force. The anniversary of this occasion is observed as a way of promoting and increasing general understanding of intellectual property.

The program is free and open to the public. Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or

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The Best (and Free!) Resource on Copyright Law

Tricolor Heron on Stump

Register of Copyrights Maria A. Pallante released late last year the official version of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition, available on the Office’s website at

The Compendium serves as a technical manual for the Office’s staff, as well as a guidebook for authors, copyright licensees, practitioners, scholars, the courts, and members of the general public. More than three times the size of the previous edition, the Third Edition represents a comprehensive overhaul and makes the Office’s practices and standards more accessible and transparent to the public.

As in the past, it addresses fundamental principles of copyright law, such as creation, publication, registration, and renewal. It addresses routine questions such as who may file an application and who may request copies of the Office’s records. It describes recent changes to the Office’s recordation practices, such as the new option for submitting titles and registration numbers in electronic form. It also contains a new Table of Authorities that lists the cases, statutory provisions, and other legal authorities cited in the Third Edition and the relevant section where each citation may be found.

Check some of these nuggets found in the Compendium:

  • Although registration may be made at any time before a copyright expires or any time before bringing an infringement action in federal court, the U.S. Copyright Office strongly encourages copyright owners to submit their works for registration in a timely manner. As discussed in Section 202, a registration is a prerequisite for seeking statutory damages and attorney’s fees in an infringement action. To pursue these remedies, an unpublished work must be registered before the infringement occurs, while a published work must be registered within three months after publication or before the infringement occurs. See 17 U.S.C. § 412.
  • The U.S. Copyright Office has established an administrative procedure that allows an applicant to register a number of unpublished works with one application, one filing fee, and one set of deposit copies. This is known as the “unpublished collection” option. A registration issued under this option covers each work that is submitted for registration. It may also cover the compilation authorship (if any) involved in selecting the works and assembling them into a collective whole, provided that the applicant expressly claims that authorship in the application. See 37 C.F.R. § 202.3(b)(4)(i)(B). When no selection, coordination, or arrangement is claimed, the Office considers each work to be individually registered for purposes of statutory damages.
  • Many websites are frequently updated and may change significantly over time. A website may add content every hour, day, week, month, or year. To register a claim with the U.S. Copyright Office it is important to identify the specific version of the work(s) that will be included in the claim. As a general rule, each version of a work may be registered as a separate work if the version contains a sufficient amount of new, copyrightable authorship. See 17 U.S.C. § 101 (stating that “where the work has been prepared in different versions, each version constitutes a separate work”). A registration for a specific version of a work covers the new material that the author contributed to that version, including any copyrightable changes, revisions, additions, or other modifications that the author contributed to that version. But as discussed in Section 1008.2, the registration does not cover any unclaimable material that appears in that version, including any material that has been previously published or previously registered with the Office. Therefore, if the version contains an appreciable amount of content that has been previously published and/or previously registered, the applicant should exclude that material from the claim.

Example: • Sam Bavard operates a duck hunting website called “Animal Quackers.” Every three months Sam revises the website by adding new text and photographs. When Sam submits an application to register the latest version of the site he limits the claim to the “new text and photographs” that he added to the site, and he excludes the photographs and text that were previously registered with the Copyright Office.

There is much more helpful information in the Compendium.  Check it out and refer to it often.

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Record Time for Return of Copyright Registration Certificate



The time lag for receiving a registration certificate has been as long as 8 months or more for the paper applications. Fortunately, the Copyright Office added online registrations through eCO several years ago and has continued to improve the system.

Professional photographer Mike Boatman was pleasantly surprised when he submitted his first quarter images (over 4000 of them) for registration via the eCO system on March 15, 2016. The postmark on the envelope with his certificate is marked March 17, 2016. Two days!

Congrats to the Copyright Office for great and efficient service!

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Copyright Office Announces Roundtable Discussions for Section 512 Study

The United States Copyright Office is announcing two two-day public roundtables to gather additional input for its section 512 study. The roundtables, to take place in New York, New York on May 2 and 3, 2016, and Stanford, California on May 12 and 13, 2016, will offer an opportunity for interested parties to comment on topics relating to the DMCA notice-and-takedown system, as set forth in the Notice of Inquiry issued by the Office on December 31, 2015. Those seeking to participate in the roundtables should complete and submit the online form available at Requests to participate must be received by the Copyright Office no later than April 4, 2016. For further information about the section 512 study and roundtable, please see

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DMCA Takedown Notice Survey Upcoming Deadline

Has your copyrighted work been used on the Internet without your permission?

Are you a photographer, illustrator, graphic artist or designer, or other visual creator?

Are you an artist’s/photographer’s agent or representative, or an image licensing agent?

Have you discovered infringing use of your images, or the images you license, on the Internet and used the DMCA Takedown Notice procedure to have the images removed from a website? If so, please report on your experience.

The US Copyright Office is conducting a study about the efficacy of the DMCA Takedown Notice procedure. The following group of associations:

American Photographic Artists
American Society of Media Photographers
Digital Media Licensing Association
Graphic Artists Guild
National Press Photographers Association
North American Nature Photography Association
Professional Photographers of America
PLUS (The Picture Licensing Universal System)

is working together to conduct a survey of image rights holders and licensing professionals to gather information for the Copyright Office study.

Please help this advocacy effort by participating in this anonymous short survey.

The survey will close at midnight, Sunday, March 21, 2016.


Thank you!

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Save the Date: Symposium on Moral Rights on Monday, April 18, 2016


The U.S. Copyright Office and the George Mason University School of Law and its Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property will host a symposium on “Authors, Attribution, and Integrity: Examining Moral Rights in the United States” on Monday, April 18, 2016.

This day-long symposium will bring together authors, scholars, and other stakeholders for a broad discussion of copyright issues related to moral rights. Topics will include the historical development of moral rights, the value that authors place on moral rights generally and individual moral rights specifically, the various ways these rights are provided for under current law, and new considerations for the digital age. Further study of moral rights under U.S. copyright law is among the conclusions and recommendations made by the Register of Copyrights in testimony before Congress last spring, and this symposium will launch the Copyright Office’s further analysis on this subject.

Open to the public, this event will be held in the Madison Building of the Library of Congress, located at 101 Independence Avenue SE, Washington, D.C. The agenda identifying the sessions has been posted. Please visit the event page to stay apprised of updated information about the agenda and speakers.

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Request for Assistance to Oppose OHV Access at Silver Salmon Creek

Bear Drinking at Creek-Copyright Carolyn E. WrightMany photographers have enjoyed the beauty and great bear access at Silver Salmon Creek in Lake Clark National Park. But part of it is in jeopardy. Specifically, the National Park Service is considering a request from an in-holder in the Silver Salmon Area of Lake Clark National Park for in-holders to be permitted to use an off highway vehicle (“OHV”) on about 50 yards of a previously existing OHV trail for better access fishing along the river and supposedly to support educational programs.

This trail section is not currently included in the 2011 compatibility determination allowing the issuance of a permit for off read vehicle (“ORV”) use by Silver Salmon Creek landowners on 3.4 miles of existing ORV trails. The NPS has authority to issue permits for ORV use on existing ORV trails located in areas upon a finding that such ORV use would be compatible with the purposes and values for which the area was established under 43 CFR 36(g)(2).
Bear and Fishermen-Copyright Carolyn E. WrightHowever, this proposed access would negatively affect the bears’ normal activity. This area is in the path of the riparian banks that the bears use to catch salmon and OHVs in the area would have a moderate to major impact on the bear’s behavior. This potential change places human desires above the bears’ needs. Visitors now walk only about 100 yards to gain access to this beautiful location where fishing and bear viewing can take place cooperatively without noise and sight pollution. No educational process would be served by driving bears away from this habitat. The NPS should not allow for this request to use an OHV on these 50 yards just for better access for fishing along the river.

The NPS is accepting comments on the request for access through the Planning, Environment, and Public Comment (PEPC) website through March 31st, 2016. Please submit comments to oppose this expansion using the link below.
Bear Cub Stand by Water-Copyright Carolyn E. Wright

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Copyright Office Extends Comment Period for Section 512 Study

The United States Copyright Office has published a Federal Register notice extending the deadlines for public comment in connection with the Office’s study on section 512 of Title 17. The study was announced in a Notice of Inquiry issued by the Office on December 31, 2015. Initial written comments in response to the Notice are now due no later than 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on April 1, 2016. Additional information, including instructions on how to submit a comment, is available here.

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