The copyright application process is three parts: (1) application form; (2) nonrefundable filing fee; and (3) a nonreturnable deposit of the work’s copy. In general, the copyright owner should submit a separate application for each work. However, the following exceptions apply for registering multiple works in one application:
- Collective Works: When a number of separate and independent contributions are assembled into a collective whole;
- Group Registrations: When multiple unpublished works, serials, newspapers, newsletters, contributions to periodicals, photographs, database updates, or secure test items meet registration requirements in one application;
- Unit of Publication: When multiple works are bundled or packaged together and published as an integrated unit; and
- Mutual Ownership: When the copyright claimant for a sound recording and the musical, literary, or dramatic work embodied in the recording is the same individual or organization.
A collective work is the collation of a number of contributions that are separate and independent works and assembled into a collective whole. See 17 U.S.C. § 101; New York Times Co. v. Tasini, 533 U.S. 483, 494 (2001). The following list are examples:
- Newspaper, magazine, or periodical with several articles, illustrations, and photographs
- Anthology with several poems, short stories, or essays
- Online encyclopedia with several articles, entries, or postings on different topics
- Album with several sound recordings that embody musical works
- DVD with a motion picture, theatrical trailers, deleted scenes, and audio commentaries by its director
There is a specific administrative process that permits group registration with one application. This type of registration includes all of the works that are outlined in the group as long as the applicant complies with the requirements. See 17 U.S.C. § 408(c)(1). The following types of works can be registered as a group:
- Unpublished works
- Contributions to periodicals
- Published/Unpublished photographs
- Database updates/revisions
- Questions, answers, and other items prepared for use in a secure test
The group registration may be denied if the requirements are not satisfied. In fact, the copyright specialist may refuse to register the claim and advise the applicant to prepare a separate application for each work. See 37 C.F.R. § 202.4(k).
Unit of Publication
There is a specific administrative process that permits a unit of publication by registration of several published works in one application as long as the works were packaged or bundled together as a single unit and were published in that integrated unit. See 37 C.F.R. § 202.3(b)(4)(i)(A).
It should include a physical package that yields a series of separately fixed works that are placed together as one unit. The following types of works can be registered as a unit of publication:
- A board game with playing pieces, game board, and written instructions
- A bound volume published with a dust jacket
- A book published with a CD-ROM
- A multimedia kit containing a book, a compact disc, and a set of stickers
- A compact disc containing multiple sound recordings packaged together with liner notes and cover artwork
- A box set containing multiple compact discs containing multiple sound recordings, packaged together with a booklet containing liner notes and photographs
- A physical package containing a computer program and a user’s manual
- A physical package containing a videogame, cover artwork, and written instructions
- A package of greeting cards
- A jewelry set of a necklace and earrings sold to the public as a single unit
As mentioned above, another exception is the mutual ownership option – i.e., when the copyright claimant for a sound recording and the musical, literary, or dramatic work embodied in the recording is the same individual or organization.
In short, there are different types of copyright applications which can be discussed as an option with your legal counsel. Please contact our law firm to speak with a knowledgeable intellectual property attorney at your convenience.