1004 Identifying the Owner of Website Content
For purposes of copyright registration, the owner of website content is either (I) the author of the content or (ii) a copyright owner that owns all the exclusive rights in that content. When completing an application to register website content, the owner of the content should be identified in the application as the “claimant.” Although the author of the content or the copyright owner of that content are the only parties who are entitled to claim ownership of the copyright in that material, an application to register that claim may be signed and submitted by any of the parties listed in Chapter 400, Section 402.
The author of website content may be named as a claimant even if the author transferred some or all of the exclusive rights in that content to another party. A copyright owner that owns all of the exclusive rights in website content may be named as a claimant, provided that the copyright in that content was transferred to the owner pursuant to a valid signed, written agreement. If the website contains content authored by a third party and if the copyright in that content has not been fully transferred to the claimant, the applicant should expressly exclude that content from the claim.
If an individual, company, or organization hires an independent contractor to design a website and/or create copyrightable content for the website, the hiring party may have a contractual or implied right to use the website and/or the content for the purpose for which it was intended. However, the hiring party does not own the copyright in that content and cannot be named as a claimant unless there was a valid transfer of ownership in the copyright from the independent contractor to the hiring party.
• Trashy Productions LLC operates a fashion blog called “OneGirlsTrash;” Jake Rag is an employee of the company. Jake shot a video of street fashion and uploaded it to the company’s website. Jake submitted an application to register the video as a “motion picture,” naming Trashy Productions as the author and claimant with the work made for hire box checked “yes.” The registration specialist will register the claim.
• Madge Pash enters into a signed, written agreement with a well- known artist granting Madge a nonexclusive license to display the artist’s drawings on her website. Madge submits an application to register the content of her website, naming herself as the claimant/owner of the drawings “by nonexclusive license.” The registration specialist will refuse to register the claim in the drawings, because a nonexclusive license is not a transfer of ownership, and because Madge is neither the author of the drawings or the owner of all the exclusive rights in those works.
For guidance in identifying the claimant and providing a transfer statement, see Section 1009.7 and Chapter 600, Sections 619 and 620. For information on the procedure for excluding third party material from a claim, see Section 1009.8 and Chapter 600, Section 621.