Does Group Registration of 750 Photographs Register One Work or 750 Works?
By John M. DeBoer
We take A LOT of photos. And why not? Photos are a great means of communication, and technology makes it easy to take an amzing picture that can be immediately shared with friends and family. Volume is even more applicable for professional photographers who by their nature take thousands of a photos in a given year, but of those may only publish (or license) a select few. In order to better deal with copyright protection, photographers (pro and amateur alike) have had the ability to register their photographic works in a ‘group registration’ -- provided that the photographs submitted in the deposit were all published within the same year, and were all taken by the same photographer (along with a few other rules).
Recently the U.S. Copyright Office extended a deadline for the submission of comments in response to its earlier Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding online group registration of certain copyright protected materials, including unpublished photographs. Written comments are now due on or before January 30, 2017. This is a great step toward modernizing the copyright office and utilizing common sense, as in reality most photographic works are created with an unpublished status.
The benefit to using a ‘group registration’ for multiple photographic works speaks for itself: it’s $65 for a single application! But while this may seem a boon on the surface of it, should multiple applications for multiple works be considered instead? Consider the scenario where someone copies multiple photographs related to a group registration... Did that person copy a single ‘work’ or multiple ‘works’?