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

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Chapter 100
Chapter 200
Chapter 300
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Chapter 500
Chapter 600
Chapter 700
Chapter 800
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709.3 Abridgements

709.3 Abridgements

An abridgment is a shortened or condensed version of a preexisting work that retains the general sense and unity of the preexisting work. An abridgment of a nondramatic literary work may be registered if the author contributed a sufficient amount of creative authorship in the form of edits, revisions, or other modifications to the preexisting work, and if the work as a whole is sufficiently creative in adapting the preexisting work such that it constitutes an original work of authorship. See 17 U.S.C. § 101 (definition of “derivative work”). Trivial changes do not satisfy this requirement, such as merely omitting a section from the beginning or end of a preexisting work.


• An audiobook version of Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina that has been abridged and condensed in order to fit into an eight– “hour recording could be registered as a derivative work.

• A book that contains an abridged and condensed edition of a novel by Joseph Conrad could be registered as a derivative work.

When submitting an application to register an abridgement, the claim should be limited to the condensed text that appears in the work, the applicant should provide the name of the author who condensed the preexisting work, and the applicant should provide the name of the claimant who owns the copyright in the condensed text. Applicants should use the term “abridged text” or the like to describe this type of authorship, rather than “text,” “edits,” or “editing.” When completing an online application, this information should be provided in the Author Created/Other field and the New Material Included/Other field. When completing a paper application on Form TX, this information should be provided in spaces 2 and 6 (B). For guidance on completing these portions of the application, see Chapter 600, Sections 618.4 and 621.8.

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