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Archived updates for Tuesday, March 29, 2005

USCO Issues New Rules on Photograph Applications

Effective March 28, 2005, the U.S. Copyright Office is amending its final regulations concerning group registration of published photographs to limit to 750 the number of photographs that may be identified on continuation sheets submitted with a single application form and filing fee.

The regulation continues to place no limit on the number of photographs that may be included in a single group registration when the applicant elects not to use continuation sheets and instead identifies the date of publication for each photograph on the deposited image. The regulation also clarifies that the date of publication for each photograph may be identified in a text file on the CD-ROM or DVD that contains the photographic images or on a list that accompanies the deposit and provides the publication date for each image.

According to the Notice:

[T]he Office did not contemplate that it would receive continuation sheets listing nearly 15,000 photographs, nor did it contemplate that the production of such certificates would be as disruptive as it has been to Office operations. Recent experience with the end-stage processing of continuation sheets of a group of photographs that include more than 750 photographs listed on more than 50 continuation sheets has proved administratively burdensome. Whatever the technical capability of Office equipment might be to produce certificates with an unlimited number of continuation sheets, the practical reality of doing so requires an excessive amount of staff, time, equipment, and materials. As a consequence, the cost effectiveness of making these group registrations, at the current filing fee of $30.00 per group, is seriously out of balance.

To relate recent empirical evidence, one recent claim consisted of a staggering total of 1,776 continuation sheets. The Office required three hours for initial processing of the claim, including stamping, examining, labeling, scanning and packaging the claim for imaging. The next step to process the claim, producing the image for the registration record, required four and one-half hours to complete and used 1777 registration number bar code labels. To print the 1777 page certificate took an additional one and one-half hours during which no other printing could be accomplished on that equipment. Then, the certificate had to be packaged and mailed, at an inordinate expenditure of three and one-half reams of certificate paper, postage and packaging costs. Altogether, at the end stage of the registration process, this single registration required more than 12 hours to complete. Making matters worse, the Office currently has on hand 15 additional claims of this kind, at various stages in registration processing. Each of these claims is accompanied by continuation sheets ranging from approximately 1090 to 2423 in number. The Office production structure for registration of claims simply does not accommodate such a time frame for a single registration—group or otherwise—in a system which registered nearly 661,500 claims in fiscal year 2004.

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