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New Rule for Group Registration in the US Copyright Office

by | Jun 25, 2020 | Intellectual Property, Intellectual Property Law Update

The US Copyright Office issued a final rule this week for Group Registration of Short Online Literary Works. The Final Rule amends the regulations to establish a new type of copyright registration for works distributed online by individual writers that do not qualify as contributions to periodicals. The effective date of the new rule is August 17, 2020.

The intent of the rule is to help protect short works that are published on the internet. The focus is on protecting text rather than other forms of authorship (e.g., photos, graphic art).

In January 2017, a petition by the National Writers Union, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc., and the Horrors Writers Association was submitted requesting a new rule that created a new group registration for “short-form works.” 

The petition was endorsed by the Authors Guild, the Association of Garden Communicators, the Society of Children’s Books Authors and Illustrators, the Songwriters Guild of America, and the Textbook & Academic Authors Association. The rulemaking process finally culminated in the final rule issued this week.

What Works Are Eligible?

The types of works that may be eligible for this new type of registration are:

  • blog articles,
  • public Facebook posts,
  • short articles, and 
  • possibly tweets. 

Requirements to Qualify

The requirements to qualify for this type of copyright registration are:

  • Each work must contain at least 50 but no more than 17,500 words.
  • The works must be created by the same individual, or jointly by the same individuals.
  • Each creator must be named as the copyright claimant or claimants for each work.
  • The works must all be published online within a three-calendar-month period.

If the above-listed requirements are met, the applicant may submit up to 50 works with one application and one filing fee. 

How the Submission Process Works

The US Copyright Office is creating an online application designated for a group of “Short Online Literary Works.” The applicant will be required to upload a .ZIP file containing a separate digital file for each work. 

The US Copyright examiners will review each work to determine if it contains a sufficient amount of creative authorship. If a registration is issued, it will cover each work separately.  

If you are publishing original articles on your website, a blog, or Facebook, and would like to obtain copyright registrations for the original content, consider using this new type of copyright application. The intellectual property attorneys at Marks Gray, PA will gladly help you prepare and file the copyright applications.

The new Rule was published in the Federal Register/Vol.85, No.120/Monday, June 22, 2020/Rules and Regulations page 37341. 


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