From 20 February 2018, the U.S. Copyright Office is implementing new rules that affect the way groups of photos are registered. So, if you register your images with the Copyright Office, there are six changes you need to be aware of.
According to Copyright Alliance, the aim of the new rule is to “modernize and streamline the registration process for group registrations of photographs.” Also, it implements “other important changes.”
As you probably know, your photo is protected the moment you press the shutter. Therefore, the registration is optional, but there are some benefits it offers. For example, if your photos are registered, you can file an infringement lawsuit and “claim statutory damages of up to $150,000 per infringed work + recover the attorney fees.”
The U.S. Copyright Office is implementing the changes to the application process it can be a time-consuming and burdensome for photographers. Six changes will be made to the current rules:
1.Modified registration processes for two group registration options: there are two new group registration options for photos: group registration of published photographs (GRPPH) and group registration of unpublished photographs (GRUPH). According to the new rule, it’s now up to photographers to determine if a photo is published or unpublished. As Copyright Alliance writes, it can be tricky for photographers to determine what falls under “published” work. Therefore, the U.S. Copyright Office will try adding examples and update their informational materials.
2.GRPPH and GRUPH applications are now filed online: photographers are no longer required to submit paper applications.
3.Registrations are now limited to 750 photos: previously, photographers were able to register an unlimited number of photos in a single application. The new rule proposes they can now register up to 750 photos, and it applies to both published and unpublished work.
4.Applications require digital deposits and Identifiable Information: along with your online application, you must submit digital copies of your photos. You can either upload them to the electronic registration system or send them on a flash drive, CD/DVD.
You need to provide a title for the group of photos in addition to individual titles and filenames, as well as moth and year of publication.
5.New eligibility requirements for group applications: each photo in the group must be created by the same author. When it comes to “works made for hire,” the copyright owner doesn’t need to identify the person who took the photos. However, as Copyright Alliance writes, if the copyright owner “checks the work made for hire’ box but leaves the designated ‘employee’ space empty, ‘the application will not be accepted’ by the registration system.”
Additionally, all photos within the same group registration application must be owned by the same person or entity. The new GRPPH process doesn’t require the photos to be published within the same country, but they must be published within the same calendar year.
6.Group registration won’t limit a photographer’s available remedies: each individual photo registered under the GRPPH and GRUPH is treated as a separate work under the Copyright Act. According to Copyright Alliance, this is similar to the current rule and enables photographers to “seek separate statutory damage awards.”
If you have registered your photos with the U.S. Copyright Office or you intend to, check out this link for more information on the upcoming changes.