Copyright change will benefit community newspapers with batch registrations

From the National Newspaper Association

The United States Copyright Office has removed a barrier for community newspapers seeking copyright protection: it has eliminated a three-month window for registering copyrights on groups of newspapers.  After Monday, group copyright registrations can be sought any time.

In 2018, the Copyright Office rolled out a new platform to help community newspapers register their copyrights. Previously, only daily newspapers could register in batches. Community papers had to create an entry for each filing.  Now, the portal for registration allows weeklies to register as well.  But a three-month window for filing meant copyright owners had to be on their toes.

Registration is not necessary to indicate that content belongs to a newspaper. Under modern copyright laws, content is protected on its creation. But to sue someone for an infringement, registration is necessary.  Registration also helps newspapers earn possible revenues from those seeking publication licenses for content, because they can track down content owners through the registration database.

As of Feb. 18, the publication date deadline for filing each batch of issues is being dropped. The Copyright Office now says, “Any group of newspaper issues may be registered together at any time, as long as the remaining eligibility requirements have been met. The Copyright Office will no longer refuse to register group newspaper claims based on the date that the claim is received.”

NNA President Andrew Johnson, publisher of the Dodge County (WI) Pionier, expressed his appreciation to the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office.

“Every little hurdle that gets in the way of our protecting our publications can become a big one for newspaper executives who are always pressed for time and pulled in a thousand directions. Often we intend to take these important administrative steps on behalf of our newspapers, but the opportunity gets past us. Now, the registration opportunity is not lost forever. We are delighted that the Copyright Office has made our lives a little easier,” Johnson said.

An NNA Pub Aux Live! webinar featured Erik Bertin, Deputy Director of the Office of Registration Policy & Practice at the Copyright Office. An archive copy of that session is available here (Members must log in to view).

The Copyright Office’s announcement is available here.

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