UPDATE to Copyright Office proposes limiting registration for unpublished works to only five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an unlimited number of photographs on one copyright registration application if the photographs are a collection of unpublished works by the same author and owned by the same claimant.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However, the U.S. Copyright Office is proposing to limit the number of unpublished works per application.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The proposed rule would replace the current “unpublished collections” registration option.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 That would make it much more expensive for photographers to register their unpublished photographs.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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