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Possible Rule Change: Should Authors of 2D Artwork Be Able to Register Pieces in Groups?

by | Mar 6, 2024 | Copyrights, Intellectual Property

Creators of two-dimensional art tend not to register their work for copyright protection. According to surveys by the Coalition of Visual Artists and the Graphic Artists Guild, somewhere between 50-60 percent of artists haven’t registered any of their work.

For a profession that produces works that can be easily infringed upon, this may sound utterly foolhardy. However, the current system creates a number of barriers that make it untenable for many artists to register — including the cost and time it takes to register each individual work. In a climate where the vast majority of artists make very little money, the cost of registration (literal and figurative) simply outweighs the benefits.

A new proposal from the Copyright Office – GR2D – seeks to change this equation by allowing artists to register up to 10 two-dimensional works on the same registration and for the cost of a single registration. Is this proposal really as good as it sounds?

How GR2D Would Work

Here’s language from the proposed rule:

“This option will allow applicants to register up to ten works published within a thirty-day time period by submitting a single online application with a digital deposit copy of each work. The Office will examine each work to determine if it contains a sufficient amount of creative pictorial or graphic authorship. If the Office registers the claim, the registration will cover each artwork as a separate work of authorship.”

The artist would need to submit an application online and upload a digital deposit copy of each individual work. Additionally, each work must include a unique title and publication date.

GR2D-eligible works would include, among other types:

  • paintings
  • illustrations
  • sketches
  • collages
  • cartoons
  • character artwork
  • logos
  • commercial art
  • textile designs

The rule also specifies that each is only allowed to contain “a single pictorial or graphic work.” However, this language may be a bit misleading. As the rule goes on to explain, a single comic strip — even though it has multiple panels — counts as one work. 

Possible Problems with GR2D

While many things about GR2D sound like welcome changes, it is not perfect. 

Artists have requested additional accommodations, such as tiered or bulk payment systems and the ability to register both published and unpublished works with the same application — neither of which are a part of this proposed rule. Moreover, a downside of bundling works together is that this can make it hard to capture enough information about each unique creation. And there are also questions about how group registration will impact administration, such as processing times for non-bundled works and the Office’s ability to efficiently examine, index, and catalog each work.

That being said, it is never wise to allow the perfect to be the enemy of good, and much of this rule does seem to bring long-needed changes.

Make Your Opinions on GR2D Known!

Remember, this is a proposed rule. Nothing has been decided yet.

If you have feelings about GR2D, reach out to the Copyright Office. You can find instructions for submitting comments on the Office’s website here. If you are unable to utilize electronic submission, you may also contact the Office by telephone at 202–707–8350. 


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