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

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1107.2 (D) Discrete, Self-Contained Collective Works

1107.2 (D) Discrete, Self-Contained Collective Works

Each issue in the group must be fixed and distributed as a discrete, self-contained collective work. 37 C.F.R. § 202.4 (D) (1)(iii).

An applicant may satisfy this requirement if the serial as a whole is fixed in a tangible medium of expression, and if the content of each issue does not change once it has been distributed. For example, a publisher that hand-delivers each issue to its subscribers, or distributes them through newsstands or other retail outlets, would satisfy this requirement because the serial is clearly fixed and distributed in a physical format. A publisher that emails an electronic serial to its subscribers may satisfy this requirement if each issue contains a fixed selection of content, such as a PDF version of a physical publication. Similarly, a publisher that allows its subscribers to download an eSerial from its website may satisfy this requirement if each issue is distributed as a collective work and the content of each issue does not change once it has been distributed.

By contrast, a website would not satisfy this requirement. Websites typically add, archive, and/or replace content on a continuing basis. As such, they are not fixed and distributed as discrete, self-contained works. Moreover, these updates are rarely distributed on an established schedule, and rarely contain numerical or chronological designations distinguishing one update from the next. For this reason, websites are not considered “serials” for purposes of registration.

If a serial contains content that appears in both the issue itself and on the publisher’s website, the registration may cover that material if it was first published in the serial issue, is fully owned by the claimant at registration, and if the registration specialist can access and view that material in the context where it appears within the issue. Any content that appears on the publisher’s website – ” but does not appear within the issues themselves – ” must be registered separately.

See Group Registration of Serials, 83 Fed. Reg. 22,896, 22,898 (May 17, 2018); Group

Registration of Newsletters and Serials, 83 Fed. Reg. 61,546, 61,547 (Nov. 30, 2018);

Group Registration of Serials, 84 Fed. Reg. 60,918 (Nov. 12, 2019).

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