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

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1108.7 Scope of Protection for Newspaper Issues Registered Under the Group Registration Option


1108.7 Scope of Protection for Newspaper Issues Registered Under the Group Registration Option


A registration for a group of newspaper issues covers each issue in the group, and each issue is registered as a separate collective work. 37 C.F.R. § 202.4(n). This may have several consequences in an infringement action.


First, a group registration may be used to satisfy the statutory requirements for instituting an infringement action involving any of the newspaper issues that were included within the group, or any of the individual contributions appearing within those issues–provided that the copyright claimant fully owned those contributions at the time the application was submitted, and provided that the contributions were first published in one of those issues. See 17 U.S.C. § 411 (A).


Second, a group registration may also be used to satisfy the plaintiff’s burden of proof by providing a presumption of validity for each registered issue. Specifically, a certificate of registration “constitute[s] prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.” 17 U.S.C. § 410 (C). A group registration thus creates a presumption that the claimant owns the copyright in each issue listed in the certificate, and a presumption that the copyright law protects each issue as a whole.


Finally, the group as a whole is not considered a compilation, a collective work, or a derivative work. Instead, the group is merely an administrative classification created solely for the purpose of registering multiple collective works with one application and one filing fee. The chronological selection, coordination, and arrangement of the issues within the group is entirely dictated by the regulatory requirements for this option.


Likewise, when a group of newspaper issues are combined for the purpose of facilitating registration, those works are not “recast, transformed, or adapted” in any way, and the group as a whole is not “a work based upon one or more preexisting works” because there is no copyright authorship in simply collecting a month of issues and arranging them in chronological order. 17 U.S.C. § 101 (definition of “derivative work”).


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