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

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1114 Group Registration of Photographs

1114 Group Registration of Photographs

This Section discusses the U.S. Copyright Office’s practices and procedures for registering a group of photographs. The Office has established a group registration option for unpublished photographs, and a separate group registration option for published photographs. When referring to these options, the Office uses the terms “GRUPH” and “GRPPH,” respectively.

NOTE: The group registration option for unpublished photographs replaces the

registration accommodation for “unpublished collections,” which was eliminated effective March 15, 2019. For additional information concerning this change, see Section 1106.6.

When the Office receives a group of photographs, it will examine each photo 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 photographs covers the copyrightable authorship in each photo that is submitted for registration, and each photo is registered as a separate work. 37 C.F.R. § 202.4(n).

If an unpublished photograph has been registered with the Office it does not have to be registered again if it is subsequently published (although as discussed in Chapter 500, Section 510.1, the Office will register the first published edition of a work even if the unpublished version and the published version are substantially the same). Registering an unpublished photograph prior to infringement will preserve the copyright owner’s ability to seek statutory damages and/or attorney’s fees in an infringement action.

For guidance on registering a single photograph, see Chapter 900, Section 909. For information concerning the option for registering a group of photos that have been published as contributions to periodicals, see Section 1110. For a general overview of the similarities and differences between the options for registering a group of photographs and a group of contributions to periodicals, see Section 1117.

See generally Group Registration of Photographs, 83 Fed. Reg. 2542 (January 18, 2018); Group Registration of Photographs, 81 Fed. Reg. 86,643 (Dec. 1, 2016); see also H.R. REP. NO. 94-1476, at 154 (1976), reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. 5659, 5770 (citing “a group of photographs by one photographer” as an example of a group of related works that might qualify for group registration).

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