Copyright Office Releases New Applications for Group Registration of Photographs

The U.S. Copyright Office recently issued a final rule on group registration of photographs, which will take effect on February 20, 2018. The rule modifies the Office’s procedure for registering published photographs, and it establishes a similar procedure for registering unpublished photographs.

To seek a group registration, beginning February 20, 2018, applicants will be required to use the online applications specifically designated for published and unpublished photographs and will be required to submit a digital copy of each photograph being registered.

The Office released these new applications on February 7, 2018, to give photographers an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the new forms before the rule goes into effect. The Office also prepared help text that provides step-by-step instructions for completing each application. See help text for published and unpublished.

Important Note: Although these new applications have been made available to the public and can start to be filled out and prepared for submission at this time, they should not actually be used to submit any claims until the final rule goes into effect. If the Office receives any claims on these forms before that date, the effective date of registration will be reset to February 20, 2018.

As mentioned in the final rule, applicants will be required to prepare and submit a list containing the titles and file names for each photograph in a group, along with a copy of each photograph in the group. The Office developed templates that may be used to prepare this list. See templates for published and unpublished. The help text mentioned above provides detailed instructions for using these templates.

More information concerning these upgrades to the electronic registration system is available here. When the final rule goes into effect on February 20, 2018 the Office intends to issue a new circular that will provide more information concerning these group registration options.

In the meantime, photographers may continue to use the Standard Application or a paper application to register a group of published photographs or a “collection” of unpublished photographs, but the claim must be received by February 19, 2018. If an applicant attempts to use the Standard Application or a paper application on or after February 20, 2018, the Office will refuse registration and instruct the applicant to resubmit the claim using the appropriate form.

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