Changes to Group Photo Registration from The U.S. Copyright Office
The US Copyright Office recently put new official rules around group registration of photographs into effect. There were some big changes made, so we want to help make sure everyone is up to date on the rules that will affect photographers’ the most. Below is a breakdown of these rules, and links to get access to official documents.
Here is the final ruling that The U.S. Copyright Office released:
After soliciting comments in late 2016, the U.S. Copyright Office adopted a final rule, effective February 20, 2018, governing group registration of photographs. The final rule modifies the procedure for registering groups of published photographs (GRPPH), and establishes a similar procedure for registering groups of unpublished photographs (GRUPH). The final rule adopts a new requirement that applicants seeking copyright registrations for groups of photographs—both published and unpublished—must generally submit applications through the Office’s electronic registration system, and can include up to 750 photographs in each claim. The final rule also modifies the deposit requirement by requiring applicants to submit their contributions in a digital format and to upload those files through the electronic system; clarifies the eligibility requirements; and confirms that a group registration issued under GRPHH or GRUPH covers each photograph in the group, each photograph is registered as a separate work, and the group as a whole is not considered a compilation or a collective work.
The photo limit is the biggest change made to note. Where once photographers could submit an infinite amount of photographs in one registration, submissions are now limited to 750 photos.
In his article for Photo Business & News Forum, Photographer John Harrington laid out the impact that this new limitation will have on photographer’s, describing that “a group registration of 5,500 images that I could previously register for $55 using the online eCO, will now cost me $520, or almost a ten-fold increase”.
The other rules that photographers will need to be aware of, which Harrington mentions, are:
- Photos can only be submitted as a .JPG, .TIF, or .GIP. All files will need to be in a .ZIP file that is 500MB or less.
- Registration will now be online only. Paper registrations will no longer be accepted.
- There is still a $55 fee, though this link also mentions a $65 fee that will need to be paid for group photo registrations.
- Every image must have its own title, not just a single title. The entire group must also have a title.
- Once you have submitted your registration and have received a case number from the eCO, every image must then be in a separate document in list form. This document will need to be specific about the title and filename of the work as stored in the .ZIP file, and the date of publication.
- The registration requires that you’re the only author.
One positive that Harrington notes, related to the last rule listed, is that photographers who work with assistants or other photographers on a work-made-for-hire basis can now register multiple photographers in the same submission for a single fee, as long as the author for all the photos remains the same.
Additionally, individual images registered in a group registration are now covered individually. As Harrington describes it, “If someone were to say you were entitled to only a single statutory award of up to $150,000 if someone infringes on 5 images that all were in a single registration, your maximum statutory award would be $150k x 5, or $750,000”.
To learn all the details, visit:
You can also read John Harrington’s full article, “Significant Changes at The US Copyright Office”, here.