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Copyright Office Provides Welcome Innovation for Bloggers and Creators of Other Short Texts

July 1, 2020

Mitch Tuchmann - Copyright Lawyer Durham - Intellectual Property Attorney
Insight by Attorney Mitch Tuchman

Good news from the Copyright Office for authors of blogs, newsletters, social media posts and other short works published online. Beginning August 17, 2020, authors will be able to apply to register claims of copyright in groups of up to 50 short works on a single application and for a single low fee: $65. A bargain by any measure.

According to a description of the new service in the Federal Register of June 22:

To qualify for this option, each [of the works sought to be registered] must contain at least 50 words but no more than 17,500 words [about 70 typed pages].  The works must be created by the same individual, or jointly by the same individuals, and each creator must be named as the copyright claimant or claimants for each work…. [T]he applicant may submit up to 50 works with one application and one filing fee … and [must] upload a .ZIP file containing a separate digital file for each work…. [T]he registration will cover each work as a separate work of authorship.

The Copyright Office has long offered group registrations for other media, e.g., photographs, periodicals, data base updates. But blogs? The applicability of group registration to blogs, newsletters, even social media posts has been unclear.

To be eligible, all works in a group application must have been published online within a three-month calendar period. No works for hire—i.e., works created by employees within the scope of employment or other strictly delimited circumstances—can be included. Claims for illustrations, graphs or computer programs are disallowed.

Benefits of Registration

Registration is not a prerequisite for ownership of copyright, but it is a prerequisite for enforcement of copyright and highly recommended where works might become the subject of transactions, such as licensing.

Let Us Know If We Can Help

Hats off to the Copyright Office for making this effort to facilitate registration for busy bloggers or prolific social media posters. We expect the new application form, like other online Copyright Office forms, to be “challenging.” In addition, for authors working collaboratively, we recommend joint authorship agreements.