In a nod to the reality that most photographers have gone digital and use databases to store and display their work, the Library of Congress (where the Copyright office is) recently announced an interim rule concerning registration of databases of photographs and group registration of published photographs (previously electronic group registration was limited for unpublished photos). In summary, the Copyright Office noted in the the Federal Register:
- The Copyright Office is adopting interim regulations governing the electronic submission of applications for registration of automated databases that predominantly consist of photographs, and applications for group registration of published photographs. This interim rule establishes a testing period and pilot program during which the Copyright Office will assess the desirability and feasibility of permanently allowing such applications to be submitted through the Copyright Office’s electronic filing system (‘‘eCO’’). Persons wishing to submit electronic applications to register copyrights of such photographic databases or of groups of published photographs should contact the Visual Arts Division for permission and guidance on electronic registration.
Notwithstanding the ordinary deposit requirements for group registration of automated databases, an electronic application for group registration of an automated database that consists predominantly of photographic authorship must include the image of each claimed photograph in the database. The interim regulations also allow applicants to use forms other than Form TX, as appropriate, when submitting paper applications to register group automated databases.
While most registrations are simple and easy to complete, this new registration method will greatly enhance the ability of photographers to easily and economically secure and enforce their intellectual property rights. Previously, electronic registration of published works were limited to combined works (in which the series of photos constituted a single work – think calenders, photo books, etc); however, this new rule provides greater flexibility by allowing photographers to register entire databases of photographs as individual works by extending the registration of databases to include the individual component photographs. Full text of the notice can be found at 76 FR 4072.