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

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1008.6 (A) Published Website Content


1008.6 (A) Published Website Content


If the applicant determines that the content has been published, the applicant may register all of the copyrightable material that was first published on the date of publication specified in the application. If the content contains copyrightable material that was published before that date, the applicant must exclude that previously published material from the claim.


When preparing an application to register content that appears on a published website, the applicant should do the following:


• Identify the content that the applicant intends to register.


• Identify the year that the content was created.


• Identify the year that the content was completed.


• Identify the date (e.g., month, day, and year) that the content was first published.


• Prepare an appropriate deposit containing a complete copy of the content in the form in which it was first published.


The date of first publication specified in the application must be limited to a single date, and a registration for published website content only covers the content that was first published on that date. Therefore, the deposit should contain a copy of the content as it existed on the date of publication that is specified in the application. If the publication date specified in the application is not the same as the publication date for the content reflected in the deposit, the registration specialist will communicate with the applicant, which will delay the examination of the claim.


If an author or copyright owner determines that a website has been published, that party is encouraged to preserve and maintain a copy of the website as it existed on each day that copyrightable authorship is added or incorporated into the website. This will ensure that a proper deposit may be prepared and submitted to the Office in the event that the author, the copyright owner, or other authorized party decides to register the website or the content contained therein. It also may provide critical evidence in the event there is an infringement dispute involving that content. As discussed in Chapter 200, Section 202, the date of publication may be crucial in determining whether a copyright owner is able to seek statutory damages and attorney’s fees in an infringement action.


If the applicant determines that a website has been published, it may be beneficial to register the initial version of the content that appeared on the site on the date that the site was first published. If the applicant takes this approach, the registration will cover that content as it existed on the date of publication specified in the initial application, provided that the content (I) is contained within the deposit, (ii) is owned by the claimant named in the application, and (iii) has not been previously published or previously registered with the Office.


If the applicant subsequently submits an application to register subsequent versions of the website, the registration will cover the new or revised material that was first published on the date specified in the subsequent application. As a general rule, the applicant should submit a separate application for each separately published update or revision to the website that the applicant wishes to register. If this is impracticable, the applicant may decide to seek one or more strategic registrations that cover the published content that is most valuable to the claimant.


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