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

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808.2 (A) Motion Pictures Distinguished from Audiovisual Works

808.2 Motion Pictures Distinguished from Other Types of Works 808.2 (A) Motion Pictures Distinguished from Audiovisual Works

Motion pictures are a subset of audiovisual works. Thus, an audiovisual work may or may not be a motion picture. It is possible for a series of related images to be embodied in a medium that is traditionally used for motion pictures, such as film or videotape, without imparting an impression of motion. In such cases, the work is considered an audiovisual work, but not a motion picture. For example, a series of related photographs or drawings embodied in film stock would not be considered a motion picture unless, when shown, the images give an impression of motion.

When an applicant asserts a claim in a “motion picture,” the registration specialist will examine the material deposited to determine if the images impart some kind of motion. If the material submitted contains only still images, the specialist will request that the applicant change the authorship statement to “audiovisual material.”

NOTE: Machine-readable works, such as videogames that contain computer programming or have an interactive element, generally are registered as audiovisual works rather than motion pictures, even though they impart an impression of motion to the eye.

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