Update on Proposed Legislation to Limit Number of Unpublished Works per Registration

As an update to the Nov. 1 blog entry, we have good news! According to Robert J. Kasunic, the Associate Register of Copyrights and Director of Registration Policy & Practice, the concern for photographers about the proposal to limit the number of unpublished works per application is unwarranted. He states:

[U]nder the Group Registration of Photographs Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”), group registration of photographs would be limited to 750 photographs rather than the five works proposed under the new Group Registration of Unpublished Works. We are still working on the Group Registration of Photographs final rule in conjunction with the public comments received in that rulemaking. In any case, we fully intend to finalize that rule before finalizing the Group Registration of Unpublished Works final rule for which we are still accepting comments until November 13, 2017. So the bottom line is that we have never intended to limit a group of unpublished photographs to five photographs, but rather the number we proposed for a group of unpublished photographs was 750. The Group Unpublished Works would not be applicable to photographers unless, for some reason, a photographer wanted to register two to five photographs.

(emphasis added).

Jeff Sedlik also reports that a new form, “GRUPH” (Group Registration of Unpublished Photographs), will be made available in the near future to provide for registrations specific to photographers.

In the meantime, photographers should follow current eCO instructions for group registrations. Whew!

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UPDATE to Copyright Office proposes limiting registration for unpublished works to only five

UPDATE!  See the November 3 blog for additional information.

Currently, you may register an unlimited number of photographs on one copyright registration application if the photographs are a collection of unpublished works by the same author and owned by the same claimant. See the Compendium at section 1119. That’s especially helpful to photographers (who often take thousands of photographs), because the registration fee is $55 for each such application.

However, the U.S. Copyright Office is proposing to limit the number of unpublished works per application. In the Office’s announcement about the new rule, it stated:

The proposed rule would replace the current “unpublished collections” registration option. Among other things, applicants would be required to submit an online application and upload their works to the electronic registration system, although the Office may waive these requirements in exceptional cases.

The proposed rule offers a number of significant benefits compared to current practices: it would allow the Office to more easily examine each work for copyrightable authorship, to create a more robust record of the claim, and to improve the overall efficiency of the registration process.

What the Office failed to mention in its announcement is that the proposed rule will limit the number of works per application to only five. See the Federal Register at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-10-12/pdf/2017-21722.pdf. That would make it much more expensive for photographers to register their unpublished photographs.

What’s strange is that the Copyright Office allows you to register an unlimited number of published photographs on the same application as long as they were published in the same year. See the Compendium at 1116.1. So a photographer could publish photographs on a website and register thousands of published photos on a single application to avoid the effect of this proposed rule. But this seems an unnecessary burden.

Please let the Copyright Office know that you oppose the proposed rule. Leave your comments here by November 13, 2017, at 11:59 p.m., eastern time.

HT: David Oppenheimer

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Copyright Office Proposes Rule to Establish a Group Registration for Unpublished Works

The United States Copyright Office is proposing to create a new group registration option for a limited number of unpublished works. The proposed rule would replace the current “unpublished collections” registration option. Among other things, applicants would be required to submit an online application and upload their works to the electronic registration system, although the Office may waive these requirements in exceptional cases.

The proposed rule offers a number of significant benefits compared to current practices: it would allow the Office to more easily examine each work for copyrightable authorship, to create a more robust record of the claim, and to improve the overall efficiency of the registration process.

The notice of proposed rulemaking and instructions on how to submit a comment are available here. Written comments must be received no later than November 13, 2017, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time.

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U.S. Copyright Office Releases Updated Version of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition

Acting Register of Copyrights Karyn Temple Claggett today released an updated version of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition. It is available on the Office’s website at https://www.copyright.gov/comp3/. This update is effective as of September 29, 2017, and it is the governing administrative manual for registrations and recordations issued by the U.S. Copyright Office on or after that date.

The Compendium is the administrative manual of the Register of Copyrights concerning the mandate and statutory duties of the Copyright Office under Title 17 of the United States Code. See 37 CFR. § 201.2(b)(7).

This update was initially released in draft form on June 1, 2017. The Office received comments on the draft from three organizations and four individuals. After carefully reviewing these comments, the Office revised twenty-one sections of the Compendium. For information concerning these revisions, read more. A complete list of all sections that have been added, amended, revised, or removed is posted on the Office’s website.

This version of the Compendium has been reformatted to improve readability for online and offline users. The update also includes improved hyperlinks to provide readers with direct access to the statute, regulations, and resources on the Office’s website, as well as improved cross-references between chapters.

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Copyright Office Begins Release of Refreshed and Updated Circulars

The U.S. Copyright Office today begins its release of refreshed and updated circulars to provide up-to-date and authoritative copyright information for a broad general audience. This release of 31 circulars represents a wide range of topics including copyright fundamentals, core Office procedures, Licensing Division practices, and work-specific application tips. These circulars are subject to two notable changes: (1) reformatting for optimal online reading and (2) revision to conform to the third edition of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices. Circulars have served as a gateway to copyright law and Office practices since the late 1800s, and this is the first design update in more than a decade.

Remaining circulars will be released on a rolling basis through the end of 2017. The updated circulars are available here, and a table of topics can be found here.

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Don’t be bound by Binded.com

The copyright world is abuzz about a new copyright registration service at Binded.com. But don’t be fooled — there’s a reason that Binded can claim:

What used to take 20 minutes on copyright.gov, takes 9 seconds on Binded.

That’s because Binded doesn’t make sure that it’s registering your copyright correctly.

Most important, Binded never asks whether you are registering “published” photographs, and, if so, when and where they were first published. Binded doesn’t warn you that a published photos can registered as a group only if they were published within the same calendar year.

In its FAQ, Binded states: “If you’ve already published your image you still benefit by having a copyright record and our monitoring feature.” Binded doesn’t explain that using its service will not give you a valid copyright registration. You don’t need Binded to give you “proof of creation.” Other companies offer an image search for free, so you don’t need Binded’s “monitoring.”

Even if you’re registering unpublished photos, Binded doesn’t ask for the year of completion (the year that you took the most recent photograph of the group of photos being registered). While Binded maybe able to derive the year by the metadata of the photos, that’s not always correct.

Binded also doesn’t ask what is your nation of citizenship or domicile, which is required by the US Copyright Office. While Binded may make a guess from your address, that’s not always the same. Binded reveals towards the bottom of its FAQ page that its service is not for “work for hire” or collaborative works. It’s not for derivative works, either.

Binded apparently has plans to try to collect damages for infringement of your photos. It warns that it can change its terms of service at any time, so it may try to lock you into using its infringement services.

Note that once you use Binded’s service, your photos will forever be on the bitcoin blockchain.

Registering using the eCO sysem is not difficult or lengthy (especially for unpublished photos) and there are good articles on how to do it. It can be done quickly especially after you create a template for your registrations.

The first thing that an infringer will do is to attempt to invalidate your registration. You might as well keep your $$$ and save your time before registering your copyrights incorrectly.

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Copyright Office Releases Redlines for Draft Compendium

The U.S. Copyright Office today announces the posting of redlines comparing the current version of Compendium of Copyright Office Practices (Third), which was released December 22, 2014, and the public draft of Compendium (Third), which was released June 1, 2017. The redlines are available on the revision history portion of the Compendium webpage. They are intended to assist members of the public in understanding the amendments and revisions contained in the public draft. The Office previously released a list of all sections that have been added, amended, or removed in this update, and a set of release notes providing a brief summary of the substantive revisions. The Office has extended the deadline to provide comments until July 30, 2017. Comments may be submitted on the Office’s website.

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Copyright Office Introduces Online Supplementary Registration

The U.S. Copyright Office announces that, as of July 17, it will for the first time begin accepting applications for supplementary copyright registration—used to correct or amplify information set forth in a basic registration—through the Office’s online registration system. Applicants will generally be required to file applications for supplementary registration online. The Office has also made other changes to the practices relating to supplementary registration, described in a final rule published in the Federal Register today. To help ease the transition to online filing, the Office will provide guidance in updates to the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, as well as an online tutorial.

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Copyright Office Publishes Recent Review Board Decisions

The Copyright Office today announces the launch of an online database of decisions from April 2016 to present by the U.S. Copyright Office Review Board, which hears final administrative appeals of refusals of copyright registration. The decisions are searchable and include an index; new decisions will be added as they are issued. The decisions will be a valuable resource to those seeking a better understanding of how the Copyright Office assesses whether works satisfy the legal and formal requirements for copyright registration. The index is available here.

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Copyright Office Releases an Updated Draft of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition

Acting Register of Copyrights Karyn Temple Claggett today released a revised draft of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition. This draft includes the first proposed updates to the Compendium since its release in December 2014. The public draft is available on the Office’s website at https://copyright.gov/comp3/draft.html. It will go into effect on July 3, 2017.

The Compendium is the administrative manual of the Register of Copyrights concerning the mandate and statutory duties of the Copyright Office under Title 17 of the United States Code. See 37 CFR. § 201.2(b)(7). The proposed updates are the result of a comprehensive review of the Office’s practices and procedures. The draft revisions to the registration chapters clarify how and when the Office communicates with applicants and how it handles duplicate claims, deposit requirements, and claims involving multiple works, among other improvements. The update also provides preliminary guidance for claims involving useful articles based on the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands.

The draft revisions to the recordation chapter provide additional guidance for recording notices of termination and information on the Office’s new electronic system for the designation of agents. The draft update also addresses recent changes in the Office’s regulations, including the “mailbox rule” for requests for reconsideration, new procedures for removing personally identifiable information, and changes made by the Office’s technical amendments. For a full accounting of draft Compendium revisions, read more.

Additionally, the Compendium has been reformatted to improve readability for online and offline users. When the revision is released in final form, it will include improved hyperlinks to provide direct access to legal citations and resources on the Office’s website, as well as improved cross-references between chapters.

Public comments on this draft may be submitted from June 1 to June 30 using the provided form. See www.copyright.gov/comp3/draft.html for more information.

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