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

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1106 Group Registration of Unpublished Works

1106 Group Registration of Unpublished Works

This Section discusses the U.S. Copyright Office’s practices and procedures for registering a group of unpublished works. When referring to this option, the Office uses the term “GRUW,” which stands for “group unpublished works.” As discussed in Section 1106.6, this option replaces the registration accommodation for “unpublished collections,” which was eliminated effective March 15, 2019. The Office also offers a separate group registration option for unpublished photographs, which is discussed in Section 1114.

GRUW is intended to benefit individual creators and small businesses who otherwise might not register their unpublished works on an individual basis.

When the Office receives a group of unpublished works, it will examine each work to determine if it contains a sufficient amount of copyrightable authorship, and to confirm that the legal and formal requirements for registration have been met. A registration for a group of unpublished works covers the copyrightable authorship in each work that is submitted for registration, and each work is registered as a separate work. 37 C.F.R. § 202.4(n).

If an unpublished work has been registered with the Office it does not have to be registered again if it is subsequently published (although as discussed in Chapter 500, Section 510.1, the Office will register the first published edition of a work even if the unpublished version and the published version are substantially the same). Registering an unpublished work prior to infringement will preserve the copyright owner’s ability to seek statutory damages and/or attorney’s fees in an infringement action.

If the Office determines that one or more of the works is uncopyrightable, it will refuse to register those works, and issue a registration for the remaining copyrightable works in the group (if any). 37 C.F.R. § 202.4(l). If the applicant disagrees with the refusal, the applicant may appeal that decision by filing a request for reconsideration. For information concerning this procedure, see Chapter 1700.

See generally Group Registration of Unpublished Works, 84 Fed. Reg. 3693 (Feb. 13, 2019); Group Registration of Unpublished Works, 82 Fed. Reg. 47,415 (Oct. 12, 2017).

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