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

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1108.2 (B) Collective Work Authorship

1108.2 (B) Collective Work Authorship

Newspapers are, by definition, collective works, and as such, they contain two different types of authorship:

• The compilation authorship in creating each issue, which involves selecting, coordinating, and/or arranging a number of separate and independent works and assembling them into a collective whole; and

• The authorship in the separate and independent works included within each issue, such as articles, photographs, illustrations, or other contributions.

As a general rule, a registration for a collective work covers the authorship involved in creating the collective work as a whole. It also covers the individual contributions contained within the collective work if they are fully owned by the copyright claimant and if they were first published in that work.

When the registration specialist reviews a group registration claim, he or she will examine the issues as a whole to determine if they contain sufficient compilation authorship to warrant registration. And the specialist will review the issues to determine if they contain “a number of contributions” constituting “separate and independent works in themselves.” 17 U.S.C. § 101 (definition of “collective work”).

If the claim is approved, the registration will cover the compilation authorship involved in creating each issue as a whole, as well as the authorship in the individual articles, photographs, illustrations, or other contributions appearing within each issue – ” if they were first published in those issues and if they are fully owned by the author/claimant when the application is filed. By contrast, if an issue contains contributions that are not fully owned by the author/claimant, and/or if they were previously published, the registration will not extend to those contributions.

See Group Registration of Newspapers, 82 Fed. Reg. 51,369, 51,372-73 (Nov. 6, 2017).

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