Copyright Office Allows Electronic Registration of Groups of Related Serial Issues

Washington DC – The Copyright Office is adopting interim regulations that allow groups of related serial issues to be filed through the Office’s electronic registration system. This interim rule will also allow applicants for groups of related serials to mail physical deposit copies of the serial issues upon submitting an electronic US-Copyright-Office.JPGapplication and payment, when electronic deposit copies do not exist. Regardless of the registration option chosen, applicants, whether located in Indiana or elsewhere, must still send two complimentary subscription copies of the serial promptly to the Library of Congress as a condition of eligibility unless directed otherwise by the Office. While filing electronically is not mandatory, the Copyright Office strongly urges applicants to use the electronic filing option since it is more efficient for both the user and the agency.

 Practice Tip: When Congress enacted its major revision to the copyright law in 1976, the Register of Copyrights was granted discretion to provide for a single registration for a group of related works. 17 U.S.C. 408(c)(1). In 1991, final regulations became effective permitting group registration of certain serial publications. 55 FR 50556 (December 7,

1990). Under these regulations, issues of serials published at intervals of a week or longer within a three-month period during the same calendar year can be grouped and registered on a single application and for a single fee. The group registration privilege is contingent upon the prompt submission of two complimentary subscription copies of each issue to the Library of Congress. Additionally, several other conditions apply, e.g., the registered serials must be collective works by the same author and claimant and must be works made for hire. See 37 CFR202.3(b)(6). The option for group registration of related serials does not allow the applicant to claim contributions of component works that were not  made for hire.

Since the middle of 2007, the Copyright Office has offered and encouraged the option of submitting applications for copyright registration online. See Online Registration of  Claims to Copyright, 72 FR 36883 (July 6, 2007). When this electronic system was implemented, it was limited to basic registrations, i.e., claims in single works, while the capacity to process online group registration options was being developed. Applicants for group registration were required to use the existing paper forms. On September 29, 2009, the Copyright Office initiated a limited pilot project to allow groups of related serials to be filed electronically. This pilot project involved modifying the information provided on the basic electronic application to obtain information about the group of related serials. Revisions to the electronic  registration system will upgrade the capacity of the system to provide a new group serial option for general use by eligible applicants. 

Interim Regulation: The interim regulation creates minor changes in sections 202.3, relating to registration of copyright, and 202.20, relating to copyright deposit, in order to create an option of filing electronically to register groups of related serial issues. All conditions for applying for group registration of serial issues using a Form SE/Group will also apply to electronic registration. Therefore, in order to be eligible to apply for electronic registration of a group of serial issues, automatic regular submission of two complimentary subscription copies of each issue for the Library of Congress must be provided, just as is the case for using paper form SE/Group, unless directed otherwise by the Copyright Office. Moreover, group serial claims remain limited to claims in collective works by the same author and claimant and must be works made for hire. In the pilot phase, all of the volunteers filing electronically for registration of groups of serial issues were required to upload a digital file of a complete copy of each issue. Because some publishers did not have electronic versions of the serial issues and found it difficult to create such deposit copies, these interim rules will allow the applicant to provide either a hard copy deposit, or a digital file format complying with § 202.20(b)(2)(iii) of the regulations. In order to enhance efficiency and expedite the handling of claims, the Office encourages electronic registration generally, and also encourages electronic deposit of groups of serials when applying electronically, where possible. In either case, two complimentary subscription copies of the serial must be sent to the Library of Congress as a condition of eligibility, unless directed otherwise by Copyright Office.

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