Copyright Compendium

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1008.7 Statutory Damages

 

1008.7 Statutory Damages

 

In determining whether to register the content of a website separately or together the applicant should consider the potential impact on the copyright owner’s ability to seek damages in the event that a third party infringes that content.

 

It is possible to register vast amounts of material that appear together on a website with one application if the content qualifies as a compilation, a collective work, or contribution to a collective work. It also may be possible to register an updated version of a website that contains vast amounts of new or revised content if it qualifies as a derivative version of the original website. However, derivative works, compilations, and collective works are considered one work for purposes of calculating statutory damages. See 17 U.S.C. § 504 (C) (1) (“For the purposes of this subsection, all the parts of a compilation or derivative work constitute one work.”); 17 U.S.C. § 101 (“The term ‘compilation’ includes collective works.”). Consequently, registering a number of self- contained works that appear on a website together as a compilation, collective work, or derivative work may have significant consequences in a copyright infringement action. For example, when a website consisting predominantly of photographs is registered as a compilation, a court may issue only one award of statutory damages for all the photographs covered by that registration. That is not necessarily the case, however, if the photographs are (I) unpublished and are registered as a group of unpublished works or unpublished photographs, or (ii) are published and are registered using the group registration option for published photographs. See 37 C.F.R. § 202.4(n).

 

For information concerning the group registration options for unpublished works, short online literary works, unpublished photographs, and published photographs, see Chapter 1100, Sections 1106, 1111, and 1114. For a discussion of derivative works, compilations, and collective works, see Chapter 500, Sections 507 through 509. For a general discussion of publication issues involving website content, see Section 1008.3.