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

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508.1 What Is a Compilation?


508.1 What Is a Compilation?

The Copyright Act defines a compilation as “a work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that are selected, coordinated or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship.” 17 U.S.C. § 101.


As the legislative history explains, “[a] ‘compilation’ results from a process of selecting, bringing together, organizing, and arranging previously existing material of all kinds, regardless of whether the individual items in the material have been or ever could have been subject to copyright.” H.R. REP. NO. 94-1476, at 57, reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 5670; S. REP. NO. 94-473, at 55.




• A directory of services for a particular region.


• A list of the best short stories of 2014.


• A collection of the best sound recordings of 1985.


The statute states that “[t]he term ‘compilation’ includes collective works,” which are discussed in more detail in Section 509 below. 17 U.S.C. § 101. Creating a collective work also “involve[s] the selection, assembly, and arrangement of ‘a number of contributions,” because this type of work “is a species of ‘compilation.'” H.R. REP. NO. 94-1476, at 122, reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. at 5737; S. REP. NO. 94-473, at 105.




• A book of news photos.


• An academic journal containing articles on a particular topic.


• A newspaper comprised of articles by different journalists.


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