Copyright Compendium

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613.8 Identifying the Author of a Collective Work or a Contribution to a Collective Work

 

613.8 Identifying the Author of a Collective Work or a Contribution to a Collective Work

The Copyright Act defines a collective work as “a work, such as a periodical issue, anthology, or encyclopedia, in which a number of contributions, constituting separate and independent works in themselves, are assembled into a collective whole.” 17 U.S.C. §

 

101. Collective works are a subset of compilations. Id. (definition of “compilation”). Therefore, for the collective whole to be registrable, the separate and independent works must be selected, coordinated, and/or arranged in such a way that “the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship.” Id.

 

A contribution to a collective work is a separate and independent work that has been included within a collective work, such as an article that has been included within a periodical or an essay that has been included within an anthology.

 

A collective work contains two different types of authorship:

 

• The authorship in the collective work as a whole, which involves selecting, coordinating, and/or arranging the various contributions within the collective work as a whole; and

 

• The authorship in the separate and independent works that have been included in the collective work.

 

An applicant may register a collective work together with the separate and independent works contained therein (I) if the copyright in the collective work and the contributions are owned by the same claimant, and (ii) if the component works have not been previously published, previously registered, and are not in the public domain.

 

If the applicant intends to register the copyright in the collective work as a whole, the applicant should identify the individual(s) or entity that selected, coordinated, and/or arranged the contributions and assembled them into a collective whole.

 

If the applicant intends to register a collective work together with the contributions that appear in that work and if the contributions were created by a person(s) who transferred his or her copyright to the claimant, the applicant should provide the name(s) of those author(s) in the Name of Author field/space.

 

If the applicant intends to register a contribution that appeared in the collective work, but does not intend to register the collective work as a whole, the applicant should identify the author of the contribution in the Name of Author field/space.

 

In all cases, the applicant should provide the name(s) of the author(s) who created the material that is owned by the copyright claimant and for which registration is sought. The applicant should not include the name(s) of author(s) who created any material that is not owned by the copyright claimant or any material that the applicant does not intend to register.

 

Examples:

 

• Health Publishing Company submits an application for a publication containing hundreds of articles on remedies for common health problems. The company selected the articles that have been included in the publication and categorized them by subject matter. Half of the articles were written by the company’s employees. The others were written by freelance writers, but only two of those writers assigned the copyright in their contributions to the publisher. Health Publishing Company should be named as the author of the collective work as a whole, and the author of the articles written by its employees. The publisher also should provide the names of the two freelance authors who assigned their copyrights to the company. The remainder of the freelance authors should not be mentioned in the application, because the company does not own the copyright in their contributions.

 

• Smart Curriculum, Inc. submits an application to register a package of materials for an educational seminar. The package includes a motion picture, instructional text, and various printed materials containing charts depicting the company’s worldwide sales. The application names Smart Curriculum, Inc. as the author of the collective work. In addition, it names Advanced Educational Productions, Inc. as the author of the motion picture and several individuals as the authors of the instructional text. The transfer statement indicates that Smart Curriculum acquired the copyright in these elements by written agreement. The registration specialist will register the claim, because it is clear that the applicant intends to register both the collective work as well as the contributions that have been identified in the application.

 

• Santiago Thomas took a photograph which was published in the May 2012 edition of Modern Driver magazine. Santiago submits an application naming himself as the author and claimant of this photograph, but does not mention any of the other material that appears in the magazine. The registration specialist will register the claim without communicating with the applicant, because it is clear that the applicant intends to register his photograph but does not intend to register the collective work as a whole.

 

For a discussion of the procedure for asserting a claim to copyright in a collective work and/or a contribution to a collective work, see Section 618.7. For a general discussion of collective works and contributions to collective works, see Chapter 500, Section 509.