Group Registration of Unpublished Photographs to be Limited to 750

Tue 23rd Jan, 2018

in Copyright, Legal Affairs

Group Registration of Photographs will be limited to 750 photographs in each claim starting on Feb 20. 

On January 18, 2018, the U.S. Copyright Office issued its final rule detailing group registration of photographs. The rule limits each registration claim to 750 photographs, despite prior regulations providing no limitations.

All group registrations going forward will only be accepted using the online registration application forms at the Electronic Copyright Office.   Single registrations can still be mailed in. 

One good element is that the regulation makes clear that every image in a group registration receives the same protection and has the same remedies as would be available if every image was separately registered – thereby providing the copyright owner with the ability to seek multiple awards of statutory damages. Currently an unpublished collection registration may only result in a single award of statutory damages rather than one for each image even if more than one image was infringed. 

Also, if a studio employs multiple photographers working on the same assignment, they can now register multiple photographers all on the same registration for one fee. This only applies if the studio is the legal author of the work, as the employer or under work-made-for-hire. 

The Copyright Office will continue to require separate registrations for published and unpublished works despite the difficulty photographers often face in determining whether photographs are published or unpublished. One common mistake in regiration is that a photographer will put the creation date of the image as the publication date and that is not usually correct.  

APA is currently lobbying to remove the published/unpublished distinction for photographs, however because it is a law, it will require a statutory amendment.  It is not a rule that the Copyright Office has the ability to alter on their own. 

The visual associations all pushed hard against the 750 limitation when it was surveyed last year. However, the Copyright Office advises that it is primarily the mistakes and omissions made by claimants that cause the costs to skyrocket. Each error requires the examiners to assign registration specialists to correspond with the claimants to correct the errors.  The greater the quantity of images, the greater the number of errors, and the more costly the registrations. 

More information about Group Registration of Photographs can be found on the Copyright.gov website:
https://www.copyright.gov/rulemaking/group-photographs/

John Harrington provides insights and a video on his Photo Business News Blog; http://photobusinessforum.blogspot.com/2018/01/significant-changes-at-us-copyright.html

The attorney, Leslie Burns offers some key details about the registration process on her site;
http://www.burnstheattorney.com/2018/01/18/new-rules-for-photo-registrations/

Leslie Burns was also interviewd about registation on the Sony blog.
The interviewer, William Sawalich, remind us - "It is imperative for photographers to register their copyrights if they ever hope to pursue legal action against an infringer"
https://alphauniverse.com/stories/the-pro-files--get-ready-for-new-copyright-rules/

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