Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Treat?! Copyright Collections!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! It wouldn't be a halloween blog without something in costume, and it is our office Shar Pei as Shrek and his sister Princess Marguerite Brunnehilde as a Little Girl!

I think it is perfect that we are discussing collections on Halloween as registering a collection can be a TREAT but it is more often a TRICK!

The Copyright Office makes the attempt to work with those who create a large volume of work. However, the rules are "tricky" to say the least.

Two or more works may be considered for registration as a unit on a single application when submitted with a nonrefundable filing fee and a nonreturnable deposit of the work if the following conditions are met:

  • the selections are assembled in an orderly form;

  • the combined selections bear a single title identifying the collection as a whole;
  • the copyright claimant in all the selections and in the collection as a whole is the same; and
  • all the selections are by the same author, or, if they are by different authors, at least one of the authors has contributed copyrightable authorship to each of the selections.

These are the "official" guidelines. The important part is whether or not you can read between the lines. Here are few guidelines "from the trenches"that you will need in order to file the registration:

  • The works MUST be be published at the same time
  • The works MUST be of similar subject matter
  • The works MUST be intended to be a collection

Now that is loaded! The first question that arises is: "What is considered the same time...a month, a day, an hour, a year?" That is the million dollar question without a bright line answer. One could argue that a monthly collection would count. Another could argue that a year collection would count. The real key is whether or not it puts the public on notice as to the work and when it was published.

The next question: "What is similar subject matter?" Could similar subject matter be all bracelets, certain colors, winter themes, nature, acrylics....the list is endless! Once again, there is no bright line. The key is whether or not the subject matter would give the public reasonable notice as to your work and the works being registered.

A final quick question: "What is intention to register as a collection?" Many creators believe that this means that if it was created in a series or as part of a collection, then it will count. However, the key to the answer to that question is what the creator's definition of series or collection is!

The registration fee can take a serious bite out of the budget of a creator. Many creators believe that is it possible to "lump" all their works together and register. Honestly, that is a great way to lose a registration fee and precious time if it is needed.

The term collection has many defintions in the US Copyright Office just as it has many definitions to us. A little guidance from an experienced resource is certainly recommended if you plan on registering collections. There are ways to title the collections, claim publication dates, and the like that can make your process easier in the long run.

The TREAT is if you prepare correctly, you will have a registration that is valid and you've saved cash at the same time. Now...there may be some litigation concerns regarding the registration of copyrights as collections, but we'll save that for another day (unless you ask sooner!).

Have fun "collecting" all your candy and hopefully lots of treats! Of course Bufford and Marguerite have more costumes - so we'll publish those pictures soon. DONT FORGET TO VOTE - there is just a little bit of time!

Create with Your Head and Your Heart!


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The Fine Print!

Since there may be legal discussions going on...there must be a disclaimer!

This blog is for educational and information purposes only. It does not constitute the practice of law. The attorney who writes this blog is only licensed in the State of Ohio and Michigan. There is NO attorney-client relationship of any type. You must sign appropriate documenation and have appropriate new client counseling to be a client of Browning-Smith, P.C. Each and every situation is different and all readers must seek his or her own legal counsel. The information on this blog is not guaranteed for any purposes nor is it to be relied on.