Copyright Registration Warning!
Now, many of you know I have professed the need for copyright registration. I believe it is the second most important thing you can do next to taking and making great images. But recently some of our members and I have noticed a serious problem with the copyright registration portal, the eCO (Electronic Copyright Office), that you need to know about.
As you may or may not know the copyright office (CO) made some rules changes last year, which included a limit of 750 images per registration and rules regarding group registration. The limit on the number of images is to make the copyright office more efficient. This is because when viewing your images, they have to view them one by one in preview instead of using an editing software to examine the work. Yes, I am not joking, it’s true.
The rules changes to group registrations require new forms which are on the eCO portal. No one actually sees a from though, the data you input on the site triggers the use of the right form behind the scenes, seamlessly. But here is the problem, if you use a template, the templates cannot be used with the group registration of images at all. And the real issue is there is no warning or notification when you are using the template. So, there is no way of knowing that the submission you just made, will be terminated, and the Copyright Office is going to not refund your payment.
In the past, the Copyright Office has reached out to help applicants fix any mistakes in their application, now with this new rules change they are just sending out termination letter:
“After careful examination of your application, we are refusing registration because you did not file using our Group Registration of Unpublished Photographs registration option. Thus, we have closed your file and the fee is nonrefundable.”
Now many of us “time” our registrations and send them in as Unpublished registrations before the images are used for the ease of registration. Terminating a registration after our work has been published makes it almost impossible in some cases to know what has been published and what has not been published. This is now devastating to the user of the eCO who trusted the Copyright Office to create a portal that worked.
The long and short of it is, DO NOT USE THE TEMPLATES YOU HAVE IN THE eCO TO DO ANY REGISTRATIONS. Anything over one image is an issue.
I can also assure you that we as an organization are on it. We have notified the Copyright Office at the highest level and have reached out to members of the House Judiciary Committee to deal with this. It is a real issue that might have now negated hundreds if not thousands of registrations leaving the artists who did their diligence at the time exposed and unregistered.
Watch this space for more. – Michael Grecco, APA Advocacy Chair