NPPA is pleased to announce that a plan by the U.S. Copyright Office to raise the registration fees for groups of photographs, has changed.
Photographers gain significant additional protection for the copyright of their images if they register those images with the U.S. Copyright Office. Most photographers register their work as a group registration of either published or unpublished photographs, which costs $55 for a group of photographs. Last year, however, the Office issued a plan to raise the fee to $100 per registration. On top of a recent policy change imposing a limit of 750 images per registration (previously there was no such limit), NPPA felt that this would be a huge burden for our members. We objected strongly and we requested documentation of the justification for their increase. While analyzing their underlying research, we identified some incorrect assumptions. Working with other organizations, we filed comments challenging many of their assumptions and argued that registration rates would go down even further and that some of what they wanted to fund with the registration fees, should be funded another way. We also reached out to our members, many of whom individual submitted comments to the Copyright Office opposing the fee increase.
Last week, in a submission to Congress, the Copyright Office released a new proposal for registration rates where they decided to keep the fees at $55 per group registration of photographs. The Copyright Office cited the joint comments that NPPA and others submitted as they explained the decision to keep the fees at the current rate. The Office highlighted our arguments that such a drastic increase would disproportionately burden photographers who are small business owners. They agreed with our argument that the costs of an expensive modernization effort at the Office should not be paid for by registration fees. And they accepted our argument that a commissioned study of how much it costs to process a group registration relied on outdated information, noting that “recent changes to the regulations and upgrades to the electronic registration system have improved the efficiency of claims for group registration of photographs” which “obviated the necessity of raising the fee for groups of photographs.” Additionally, the Office cited our commentary that an increase in the cost of registration would reduce participation in the system.
NPPA is grateful to the Copyright Office for listening to the concerns of photographers and not implementing their proposed fee increases. We believe this will keep photographers participating in the system so that they may take full advantage of the protections available to them under copyright law.