The Online Home of Browning-Smith P.C.

Your Voice Matters! Its Time to Speak Up NOW!

Posted | 0 comments

The US Copyright Office wants to hear your comments regarding the registration of Unpublished Works with the US Copyright Office.  Comments on the Proposed Rule will be accepted until November 13, 2017 at 11:59 PM EST.

**Sorry in Advance for the Legalese!**

Currently, A Claimant may register as many unpublished works together under a single claim/application and with one fee provided the requirements of 37 C.F.R  202.3(b)(4)(i)(B) are met:

(B) In the case of unpublished works: all copyrightable elements that are otherwise recognizable as self-contained works, and are combined in a single unpublished “collection.” For these purposes, a combination of such elements shall be considered a “collection” if:

(1) The elements are assembled in an orderly form;

(2) The combined elements bear a single title identifying the collection as a whole;

(3) The copyright claimant in all of the elements, and in the collection as a whole, is the same; and

(4) All of the elements are by the same author, or, if they are by different authors, at least one of the authors has contributed copyrightable authorship to each element.

Publication is defined in 17 U.S.C.  101 –

“Publication” is the distribution of copies or phonorecords of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending. The offering to distribute copies or phonorecords to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display, constitutes publication. A public performance or display of a work does not of itself constitute publication.

To perform or display a work “publicly” means—

(1) to perform or display it at a place open to the public or at any place where a substantial number of persons outside of a normal circle of a family and its social acquaintances is gathered; or

(2) to transmit or otherwise communicate a performance or display of the work to a place specified by clause (1) or to the public, by means of any device or process, whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance or display receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times.

The Unpublished Collection option is cost effective and many Creative Professionals utilize this method of filing a claim for the purposes of protecting their copyrightable works while determining how and when the work is to be utilized.  US Copyright Registration for those individuals and entities that create multiple works on a regular basis can be costly and time consuming.  The Unpublished Collection option serves to help alleviate some of the burden and cost of registration for volumes of work.

The US Copyright Office seeks comments on changing the Unpublished Collection option from no limit to the number of works registered under a single claim and single fee (provided the requirements are met) to a limit of up to five (5) works with each submission/claim and single registration fee.  The US Copyright Office states the reason for the proposed rule is to permit the US Copyright Office to create a more “robust” record of the claim, aid the Office in the examination of each work, and to improve efficiency. (Download the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking)

Later this week I will post our comments to the US Copyright Office.   Your opinions and comments matter on this critical issue.  This change in the Registration Process could cost some Creators significant (from hundreds to thousands of dollars) sums of money annually.  However, would that be a fair trade off for a record that could be easier to search?  Currently, The Copyright Registration Process can take anywhere from 6-9 months (although sometimes it can be much quicker depending on the claim) for a Claimant to receive a Registration filed online with the US Copyright Office.   A Limitation on the number of works included in an Unpublished Registration would require a Claimant to file more than one Registration taking additional time for the Claimant.  However, Smaller, More Concise Claims could possibly aid US Copyright Office Staff in the handling of some claims and possible give Claimants quicker turnaround times.

YOUR OPINION MATTERS.  Your comments do not need to have a formal appearance and there is not a required form to file.  Comments under 5000 characters can be typed directly into the Regulations.gov system.  Comments over 5000 characters require a document to be uploaded into the system.  The System will ask for your First and Last Name.  You may voluntarily give your contact information.  Regulations.gov has a Commenter’s Checklist that I highly recommend you read before submitting your comments to insure success!

We live in the Land of the Free because of the Brave.  This Change could DRAMATICALLY change the protections afforded to your works due to issues such as cost, additional requirements, time, etc.  This Change could DRAMATICALLY enhance the protections afforded to your works due to issues such as an easier record to search at the US Copyright Office, possible quicker turnaround times, and the potential Registrations for Unpublished Works to be more consistent due to the US Copyright Office’s ability to better examine a Registration.   Is this really a play for more money from the US Copyright Office?  Are these new regulations being introduced to help modernize the US Copyright Office so that enhanced search options will be available to the public?

Your thoughts and options count!  Now is not the time to be silent.   An investment of time regarding this critical issue is time well spent.

I’d love to hear your comments!  Feel free to drop me a line with the comments you submit and with your permission, next week after the submission deadline is over – I will be happy to publish what you have to say!

Raise Your Voice!