U.S. Copyright Office Issues New Rule for “Group Registration of Short Online Literary Works” (GRTX)
Are you a prodigious blogger? Are you an influencer? Do your social media posts garner lots of “likes”? This is because your content is great, right? Your ideas are thought-provoking, inspiring, or fill an information gap. So much so, that people are stealing your material!! You own the copyright, you probably have a copyright notice on your website, or you post on social media sites that claim to uphold copyrights, but what can you really do? You do not have your online blogs/posts as registered copyrights. Either you have never sought to register to your online literary works, or maybe you did look into registering your online literary works with the US Copyright Office, but thought it was impractical, not cost-efficient, or just tedious.
Copyrights are created when work is complete in a fixed tangible medium, even blogs and social media posts. However, to receive the maximum protection under copyright law, you must have your online works registered with the US Copyright Office. You need to have a registration on your works before initiating an infringement lawsuit, and registration before infringement allows for the awarding of statutory damages, which are damages as determined by a judge, rather than actual damages. This is important because proving actual damages to an author in an online infringement lawsuit is exceedingly difficult.
The US Copyright Office is trying to be more effective in this digital age and now has a mechanism for grouping up to fifty (50) short online literary works in a single application with a single application fee of $65. This gives the copyright owner a group registration (“GRTX”) for all the listed works, where the owner can still seek a separate infringement damage award for each work infringed. Separately filing an application for 50 works would normally cost $3,250.
What types of works are eligible for GRTX?
Short online literary works are eligible and can include poems, short stories, articles, essays, columns, blog entries, and social media posts that are between 50-17,500 words. Only the text or the word content (i.e. literary works) can be registered with this option. Graphics or photographs that are alongside the text in original posts are not eligible for registration using this method, even if you use screenshots that contain them as the deposit copy of your works for your application. Emails, podcasts, audiobooks, and computer programs are not eligible. The works in the group cannot be works made for hire.
What other requirements apply to GRTX?
The short online literary works must have been published as part of a website or an online platform, which includes online newspapers, social media websites, and social networking platforms. No more than 50 individual works are allowed per registration. The works must also have been collectively first published online within the same three-calendar-month period. All the works must be written by the same individual author or co-written by the same joint authors. Each individual work must have a title and a name must be given for the entire group that is being registered. The same GRTX application may be used to register works first published on different websites or online platforms.
On the online application, you must provide a list specifying the title and filename for each work in the group. The title and filename for any specific work must be the same. You must include the publication date and a word count for each work. The Copyright Office strongly encourages you to prepare this list before you begin the application and has provided a fillable Excel form that you may use to create your title list. The form and additional information about GRTX are available on U.S. Copyright Office website.
You might also be interested in the following articles:
Pittsburgh Intellectual Property Attorney
Kathleen Kuznicki is a Patent Attorney with The Lynch Law Group. She assists business owners, entrepreneurs, and inventors with all things related to intellectual property and brand protection, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, and licensing. Please contact Kathleen with questions regarding your intellectual property. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the office at 724-776-8000.