New Rules For Copyright Applications

The U.S. Copyright Office issued new rules recently, and as of March 15, 2019 an applicant can no longer register an unlimited collection of unpublished works. If the work is unpublished, an applicant may register up to ten works in one application, and a digital copy of each work must be uploaded along with the copyright application. To qualify for this application, the same author or the same joint authors must have created the works, and the same author or joint authors must be the named claimant or claimants for each work. An exception will be made for eligible sound recordings and the underlying musical compositions, dramatic works, or literary works embodied in the recordings (a maximum of twenty together, ten sound recordings and ten recorded works).

Keep in mind, photographers should not file the application designated for "Group of Unpublished Works", but instead use the application designated for "Published Photographs" or "Unpublished Photographs". A different rule applies to photographers that allow them to register up to 750 photos with one application and one filing fee. A digital copy of each photograph must be submitted in JPEG, GIF or TIFF format along with the application. Currently, the Copyright Office includes group registrations for the following types of works: unpublished works, serials, newspapers, newsletters, contributions to periodicals, published photographs, unpublished photographs, database updates and revisions, and questions, answers, and other items prepared for use in a secure test.

Other rule changes impacted applicants interested in registering a group of newspaper issues or newsletter issues. The Copyright Office eliminated the rule that required applications to be filed within three months of publication of the work. Now publishers can submit group claims for newspaper issues and newsletters regardless of when the work was published. To better understand the legal meaning of publication of a work, see our web page entitled, Copyright Registration.

Over the years, The Copyright Office has continued to simplify the system for filing copyright applications. The Online filing system has streamlined the process, reduced filing fees, and shortened the time for examination. For many works, the corresponding deposit can be uploaded electronically. The Copyright Office typically requires one copy of the work if it is unpublished or two copies if the work is published. However, if the work was published online and is only available online, then only one copy is required for the deposit. The following work may be registered through electronic deposits, unpublished works, works published only electronically, published works for which the deposit requirement is ID material, or published works where there are special agreements requiring the hard copy deposits to be sent separately to the Library of Congress. When registering an unpublished work, the Copyright Office strongly encourages an applicant to submit the deposit in a digital form not a physical form.

Once you make a payment, you will be prompted to upload a deposit. Before loading a deposit, confirm the pop-up blocker on your browser is turned off. Then, you can find the file on your computer and upload the deposit. There are maximum size requirements per session (500 MB), and if you do not comply you will receive an error message. If the size of the deposit exceeds the maximum size requirements, a mailed copy will need to be submitted. If this is the case, first complete the application and make payment online, then create and print a shipping label.

If your copyright application is refused, the applicant is notified in writing. The Copyright Office charges a fee to reconsider a refusal to register. The cost of a first request for reconsideration is $250 per claim. If the application is refused a second time, a second request for reconsideration is permitted, and the fee is $500 per claim. The Copyright Office's response to a second request for consideration is a final agency action, and the applicant can take no further action. If you have questions regarding copyright applications, please contact the firm for a courtesy consultation.