The wording in a notice issued by the U.S. Copyright Office has created some confusion among photographers. The Office issued a notice of proposed rulemaking for “Group Unpublished Works” in October which would limit the number of works registered to five. However, the Copyright Office has confirmed to NPPA that this will not affect the procedure already underway that is specifically for unpublished photographs.
“We have never intended to limit a group of unpublished photographs to five photographs, but rather the number we proposed for a group of unpublished photographs was 750,” said Rob Kasunic, Associate Register of Copyrights and Director of Registration Policy and Practice at the United States Copyright Office.
Responding to an email from NPPA attorney Alicia Calzada, Kasunic explained that the recent rulemaking for Group Registration of Unpublished Works process does have a limit of five items but is intended for other kinds of copyrighted works such as plays, software, films or other manuscripts. This method of registration would not be required for photographs.
'We have never intended to limit a group of unpublished photographs to five photographs, but rather the number we proposed for a group of unpublished photographs was 750'
When a photographer registers the copyright, photographs must be registered as either “published” or “unpublished.” In December of 2016, the Copyright Office issued a notice of a new rule that will create an electronic version of the Group Registration for Published Photographs as well as a similar process for Group Registration for Unpublished Photographs.
When photographers register their work as a group of published photographs, there is a limit of 750 images. If an applicant registers images as an “unpublished collection” of photographs, there is currently no limit on the number of photographs included in the registration. The 2016 proposed rule would limit the number of unpublished photographs in a registration to 750 images, and the limit for published photographs would remain at 750 images.
Kasunic added that “We hope to publish the final rule in the Group Registration of Photographs this month.”