The U.S. Copyright Office has announced a new group registration option to help ease the burden of copyright registration for high-volume online content creators, such as bloggers and social media influencers. Under this new group registration rule, effective in Aug. 2020, applicants may register up to 50 short online literary works per application. To qualify, each work must contain at least 50 but less than 17,500 words. The works must be created by the same author, or the same joint authors, and the author or authors must also be named as the copyright claimant or claimants for each work. The works must all be published online within a three-calendar-month period. The new rule does not apply to works made for hire or to copyrights that have been assigned. It also does not apply to emails, podcasts, audio books, or video blogs.
The U.S. Copyright Office is advising that upon registration, this new registration will cover each work as a separate work of authorship. In other words, a group registration does not create a compilation or a collective work for purposes of section 504, as the group is merely an administration classification and the arrangement of the works is merely an administrative formality that facilitates the examination of the works.
This fact can have important consequences in an infringement action. Section 504(c) (1) of the Copyright Act states that a copyright owner may be entitled to recover “an award of statutory damages for all infringements involved in the action, with respect to any one work, “ and “[f]or purposes of this subsection, all parts of a compilation [collective work] … constitute one work.” Because a group registration is not deemed a compilation or collective work, the Copyright Office is taking the position that a copyright owner may be entitled to claim a separate award of statutory damages for each work covered by a group registration.
Please feel free to contact us if you have questions concerning this new group registration for short online literary works.