U.S. Copyright Office Issues Final Regulation Regarding Short Online Literary Works

June 24, 2020

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The U.S. Copyright Office has issued a final regulation (37 CFR §202.4) permitting a single, “group” registration for “Short Online Literary Works.” To be eligible, each of the works included in the registration “must be published as part of a website or online platform, including online newspapers, social media websites, and social networking platforms.” Further, each covered work must be comprised mainly of text (this requirement distinguishes the category of covered works from the broader definition of “literary works,” which includes words, numbers, symbols). Thus, the registration will cover only copyright rights in the text of each individual work. No other copyrightable aspect will be protected, including as a compilation or collective work.

In addition:

  • each work must contain at least 50, and no more than 17,500 words;
  • each work must be authored by an individual or jointly by individuals—no works for hire
  • each work must have the identical authors, who also must be the claimant(s)—this does not mean that “owner” of rights has to be the author/claimant, even at the time of submission; current Copyright Office practice allows for author as claimant even if author does not own the rights as of filing date;
  • all of the covered works must have been first published within a three calendar month period;
  • a maximum of 50 works may be included in the registration.

Registration will be made through a new Copyright Office form, GRTX.

Application requirements include providing:

  • a title for each covered work and for the group as a whole
  • the number of works included
  • a sequentially numbered list, similar to a Table of Contents, with title, first publication date, and word count for each covered work
  • a deposit copy in the form of a zip file, containing a separate digital file for each included work, named with the title of that work

The filing fee will be $65.

For more information, please contact Marsha G. Gentner (202-906-8611 or or your Dykema relationship attorney.

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