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712.1 (A) Copyrightable Authorship in Literary Monographs

712.1 (A) Copyrightable Authorship in Literary Monographs


When registering a literary monograph, the applicant may assert a claim in new and original text, artwork, and/or photographs appearing in the work. The applicant should provide the name(s) of the author or co-authors who created that material, and the name of the claimant who owns the copyright in that material. The Literary Division may accept a claim in “text” if the work contains a sufficient amount of written expression, and/or a claim in “artwork” and/or “photograph(s)” if the work contains a sufficient amount of pictorial or graphic expression.


A literary monograph may be considered a collective work if it contains “a number of contributions, constituting separate and independent works in themselves, [that] are assembled into a collective whole.” 17 U.S.C. § 101 (definition of “collective work”). Collective works typically contain the following types of authorship:


• The authorship in the compilation, which may involve selecting, coordinating, and/or arranging a number of separate and independent works within the monograph as a whole, and/or revising the monograph as a whole.


• The authorship in the separate and independent works that have been included within the monograph, which may contain literary expression and/or artistic expression.


As with any other type of collective work, an applicant may register a monograph together with the separate and independent works contained therein, (I) if the claimant owns the copyright in the monograph and the contributions, and (ii) if those contributions have not been previously published or registered. In no case may the claimant register a contribution that is in the public domain.

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