Compendium of U.S. Copyright Practices, 3rd Edition

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1006.4 Compilation Authorship


1006.4 Compilation Authorship


The Copyright Act defines a “compilation” as “a work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship.” 17 U.S.C. § 101.


The content of a website may qualify as a compilation if there is a sufficient amount of creative expression in the selection, coordination and/or arrangement of the content as a whole. For example, there may be “selection” authorship involved in choosing the material or data that will be included in the website. There may be coordination authorship involved in classifying, categorizing, ordering, or grouping the content. In addition, there may be arrangement authorship involved in determining the placement or arrangement of the content within the website as a whole.


To register a claim to copyright in a compilation the applicant should state “compilation of        ” in the field marked Other, and should specify the type of website content that the author selected, coordinated, and/or arranged (e.g., “compilation of text” or “compilation of text and photographs”). A registration for a compilation may cover each type of authorship if it is sufficiently creative, but it does not cover any content that appears within the website unless that content is copyrightable and is specifically claimed in the application.




• Camilla Beret is the owner of a dating website called “Switch and Bait.” Camilla did not create the individual listings that are posted on the site, but she selected the fields that are included within each listing and she created the arrangement of listings, headings, graphics, and photographs within the website as a whole. If the selection and arrangement is sufficiently creative, the registration specialist may register Camilla’s authorship as a “compilation of text, graphics, and photographs.”


For general information regarding compilations, see Chapter 500, Section 508. For information regarding compilation authorship, see Chapter 300, Section 312. For information regarding the practices and procedures for registering a claim in a compilation, see Chapter 600, Section 618.6 and 621.8 (D).


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