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CALLING ALL SHUTTERBUGS! THE US COPYRIGHT OFFICE HAS CHANGED THE RULES!

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CALLING ALL SHUTTERBUGS!  THE US COPYRIGHT OFFICE HAS CHANGED THE RULES!
Sergey Ryzhov/Shutterstock.com

Sergey Ryzhov/Shutterstock.com

As of February 20, 2018, the US Copyright Office will begin accepting group registrations of photographs (published or unpublished) through the US Copyright Office’s Electronic Filing System (eCo).  The Group Registration of Photographs (Published or Unpublished)may include up to 750 photographs in each claim.  The Final Rule published in the January 18, 2018 Federal Register (Vol. 83, No. 12) is in response to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued by the US Copyright Office on December 1, 2016.

The new Final Rule requires applicants to submit their photographs digitally along with a list of the titles and file names for each photograph.  The Eligibility for filing either a Group Registration of Published Photographs (GRPPH) or an Unpublished Group of Photographs (GRUPSH) now provides that all the photographs must be created by the same author (i.e. individual, employer or work for hire).    The Rule further confirms that a group registration issued under GRPHH or GRUPH covers each photograph in the group and each photograph is registered as a separate work and the group as a whole is not considered a compilation or a collective work.

Practically speaking, the new registration process will hopefully speed up Copyright Office turn around.  The requirement for a list and file name could be as simple as a screen shot of the contents of the disk.  Once the actual registration forms have been uploaded, photographers will obviously have a better idea of the requirements.  The 750 photograph limitation will be costly to some photographers, but the hope is that the enhanced speed in registration and processing by the US Copyright Office will outweigh the any burden.  The process of uploading 750 photographs could be quite time consuming AND slow down the entire eCo system.

The US Copyright Office is considering similar changes to the Visual Art registration process for unpublished works in a October 12, 2017 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

Please remember, the new rule does not take effect until February 20, 2018.  Furthermore, the new forms have yet to be uploaded to eCo.  The US Copyright Office is to be applauded for working with the registrants/users of the eCo system to bring about changes that will affect all registrants/users across the board.