709.4 Editorial Revisions, Annotations, Elaborations, or Other Modifications
Editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications to a preexisting work or the addenda or errata sheets for a published work may be registered as a derivative literary work if the author contributed a sufficient amount of new material to the work, and if the derivative work as a whole sufficiently modifies or transforms the preexisting work such that it constitutes an original work of authorship. See 17 U.S.C. § 101 (definition of “derivative work”). Specifically, the author must contribute new text or revised text to the preexisting work, and the text must possess a sufficient amount of written expression. Merely correcting errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, or making other minor changes, revisions, or other modifications to a preexisting work do not satisfy this requirement.
• The Lifetime Consulting Group published a training manual for pension benefit administrators. The following year the company revised the manual to account for recent changes in the tax code and added new chapters on individual retirement accounts and the estate tax. The revised text and the additional text may be registered as a derivative work if they contain a sufficient amount of new and revised material.
• Agatha Thornton is the author of the novel Bangers and Mash, which was published in the United Kingdom. Before the work was published in the United States, Agatha revised certain passages that were likely to confuse an American reader. The revisions to the British edition may be registered as a derivative work if they contain a sufficient amount of new and revised material.
• Herman Melville is the author of the novel Moby-Dick. Professor Whalen wrote a brief introduction that analyzes the plot, setting, characters, and theme of the novel. Professor Cetacean prepared footnotes, endnotes, and other marginalia that explain the meaning of certain words and phrases that appear in the novel. All of these works were published together in a single volume and the copyright is owned by the Leviathan Press. The introduction, footnotes, and other annotations may be registered as a derivative work, because they clearly contain a sufficient amount of new authorship.
When submitting an application to register this type of work, the claim should be limited to the new text or revised text that the author contributed to the work, the applicant should provide the name of the author who created the new material, and the applicant should provide the name of the claimant who owns the copyright in that new material.
Applicants should use the terms “new text” and/or “revised text” to describe this type of authorship, rather than “text” 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.