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How to File Your Copyrights and Keep Track of Them

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Copyright Registrations

*Please note, this article is referring to copyright filings in the United States.  The laws vary from country to country.  Please read though the  comments, as many of my readers have shared their knowledge of copyright issues in other countries.  

One of the artists I recently consulted has a big problem:

A major clothing company has stolen the image of one of his paintings and printed it on their products and it’s been sold in major department stores.

This is highly unusual, but it happens.  So of course my first question to him was:

Did you file the copyrights on your art?”

And no, he didn’t.  So now, it’s hardly worth going after the big bad company, because even if he wins, he loses.

Here’s why:  without a filed copyright, even if you win damages for the infringement of your art, the court will not award attorney’s fees, which can sometimes cost about the same as a small beach house in Maui.

So, here’s my yearly nag for you to file your copyrights.

Get thee, today, to http://www.Copyright.gov and get yourself an account (that part is free).

I’m not going to sugar-coat it; the copyright office in the U.S. has made it a tad confusing.  But don’t let that deter you.  After you file a couple of these, you’ll get used to it and it will be smooth sailing.

Check out their website and read through the “frequently asked questions”.  The website actually has some great information and most if it is written for the average, non-attorney person to understand.

 HOW TO FILE COPYRIGHT FOR MULTIPLE IMAGES:

(NOTE:  There are a few corrections to this post, made on 2-12-2014, as I have been corrected and educated by my readers on a few details that needed fixing!)

A copyright registration costs $35.00.  The good news is, you can group multiple pieces of art on one registration, as long as they were created in the same year and they were all unpublished.  (Published works can only be registered in a group if every piece in that group was created together, at the same time, as a collection.)

In some years my husband Drew creates 50-100 new pieces of art!  To keep it manageable, every six two months we file two groups of art under two different copyright applications.  Here’s an example:

The first group registration is for Unpublished Works for the time period.

The second group registration would be for Published Works (works created together at one time as a collection) for the time period.

(Published means that the artwork has been printed, or made for sale in tangible form, or offered for licensing.  The published requirement has always been a little confusing, and so I called the Copyright office and came to understand that Published means that it’s been sold or was printed on anything with the intention of selling it.)

For each group we create a sheet showing all the images with captions of the image name underneath each one.  For unpublished works, there is no limit to the number of images when you file in groups.

The only limit is this:  You can only file a group together if they

a – were created in the same year (i.e. 2012) and;

b – were all unpublished

c-OR were all published together as a collection

Yes, it can seem daunting.  But, I promise, once you get in the habit and create this system for yourself, it will be a breeze.

The first time you file a copyright application, it will take awhile, so be prepared to spend an hour or more learning the online system.  But after that it’s easy.

KEEPING TRACK OF YOUR COPYRIGHTS:  

The next step, once you start copyrighting all of your work, is to keep track of the art you have filed the copyrights for.

We have a list of every single one of Drew’s paintings dating back to the late 1990’s.  In that Excel spreadsheet, it states the following:

  • Painting Name and year created
  • Size and medium
  • Name of person who bought it
  • The date the copyright was filed and the copyright registration number

If the copyright column of the spreadsheet is blank, I know that we need to file the copyright for that.

I hope this article has inspired you to file your copyrights, and to get in the habit of doing it regularly!

Tell me in the comments, do you regularly file your copyrights?  Or are you going to start today?

Maria

PS:  I am speaking at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina on October 1st; if you are in the area, come see me!  Details here.

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72 Comments How to File Your Copyrights and Keep Track of Them

  1. Bonnie Hamlin

    This was a fantastic extremely useful article!! I’m not sure how many times I’d started to file a copyright and stalled out over the published/unpublished line. The Canadian copyright is quite useless, so I was filling in the States. Thank you again!!!
    Bonnie

    Reply
  2. Maria

    Bonnie, thanks for the comment! Yes, I know so many artists who started the process but got stuck on it because it’s not entirely clear.

    BUT, you can call the U.S. copyright office (they are located in Washington D.C.) and there are nice people there that will help you. They actually answer their phones still, which is refreshing.

    Reply
  3. Lance Klass

    Excellent, concise and extremely well-written piece, Maria!

    This is information that every fine artist, commercial artist, designer and illustrator should have, and I’d like to pass it along to each of the artists we have under representation as you lay it all out very clearly and simply.

    How they’ll have no more excuses for delaying in getting their copyrights registered!

    Reply
    1. Maria

      Thanks Lance, and you bring up another reason filing copyrights is so important: to not only protect you, but to protect your agents and your licensees and customers as well.

      Reply
  4. Franke James (@frankejames)

    Maria,

    I enjoyed your article. Very informative. One point to clarify is that copyright protection in Canada is currently different than in the USA.

    However Canadian copyright laws are changing so it’s important to be watchful, but to date, any artwork (by Canadians) is automatically protected by copyright laws from the moment it’s created. See the two excerpts below. The first is from the Canadian Government’s site.

    “Copyright protection: Copyright exists automatically when an original work is created; however, registration gives you a certificate that states that you are the owner, which can be used in court as evidence of ownership.”

    http://www.cipo.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/h_wr00003.html

    “The good news; copyright is inherent when an original work is created. In other words, when you create an original work, you automatically have copyright protection. This copyright protection not only exists in Canada, but extends to other countries (as long as the country in question is covered by an international copyright treaty, convention or organization).”

    http://sbinfocanada.about.com/od/insurancelegalissues/a/copyright1.htm

    In practical terms, as an artist, I have had to contact people and organizations who have infringed my copyright — one was even printed as an ad in TIME Magazine. Thankfully all cases were settled out of court once they were aware of the infringement issue.

    My advice to Canadian artists is to use the copyright symbol to show ownership, keep working drawings and a paper trail to prove you created it, and register the works as added evidence of ownership.

    Reply
    1. Maria

      Franke, thank you so very much for sharing this information! Many of my readers are Canadian and they would be happy to know this.

      Reply
  5. Bonnie Hamlin

    Frank the last time I checked on the Canadian copyright, you only sent in the titles of your work and no photos.
    Yes the work is copyrighted when you sign it, however, if you do not register your copyright, you can only ask the person stealing it to stop. You are responsible for any legal fees, and can not recover damages, etc. That is the reason I’ve turned to the US copyright.

    Reply
    1. DoDa

      Bonnie,
      I’m a Canadian artist, and am struggling with deciding what to do about registering my work with CIPO. Do you know if you have to register images/pictures one by one, and pay $50 for each one of them, or you can register them in batches, as Maria describes? That would certainly save time and money. Another question: if you’re a Canadian (I thought you were, sorry if I am mistaken), how can you turn to the licensing body in the States? Thanks for your reply, if you happen to have some time.

      Reply
  6. Franke James (@frankejames)

    Bonnie,

    That’s interesting. I’ll ask my copyright lawyer. In the TIME Mag case — which was settled out of court — I received financial compensation and got them to stop infringing my copyright.

    Franke

    Reply
    1. Maria

      I know of a few cases where the artist, even without filed copyrights, received a large settlement and their attorney’s fees were covered, because the infringing company was large and did not want bad press from it.

      But, you can’t count on that, and so it’s best to cover your butt in advance!

      Reply
  7. Jaime Haney

    Wow. I sat reading this with my jaw gapping. Before now, I’ve been like an ostrich with her head in the sand thinking if I don’t think about it, it will go away. But boy when you hear of some artist getting ripped off, like your client, it brings things more into perspective.

    I thought the process would be so hard and daunting, full of complicated terms and vocabulary that I would need a lawyer. Thank you so much for breaking it down into a do-able process and for sharing how you and your husband keeps track of his art. I shall be tending to this sooner than later.

    I’m so curious, I know you probably cannot disclose the guilty, but did your client contact the company? Can they at least give him the image credit for future printings and all advertising for the clothing? We struggle enough as artists and here some big bad multi-million dollar company (probably) swoops in and steals something he probably would’ve been happy to sell at a drop in the bucket cost to them. So sad.

    Reply
    1. Maria

      Jaime, that’s a great question and it’s material for another blog post!

      What I told this client to do was to write a Cease & Desist letter that gives the offending company a chance to redeem itself with a dollar amount to be paid to issue a license agreement for a very short period of time. If the company pays the fee, a license agreement will be issued and all will be well. If they don’t, then further legal action is threatened. The difficulty here is that if they choose not to pay, since the artist did not file his copyrights, then the artist is faced with the decision to spend a lot of money in legal fees or to just let it go.

      But, since this is a large company, the artist could take it further and publicly out the company, which would be bad public relations for them.

      And what you said, “some big bad multi-million dollar company swoops in and steals” from a small artist looks bad.

      Reply
  8. T.O.

    Thank you Maria,
    This is a great article. I have one question. How do you go about grouping the work logistically? What I mean is, do you set out the pieces on the floor and snap a photo? Or is it digital copy that is then arranged in photoshop or something to get a certain number of items on one page? The copyright page says to send a copy of the “best edition” of your work. The example you show has what appears to be as many as 16 works (and maybe some single works on several canvases). As always, I love you and Drew’s transparency and willingness to share your wisdom. You guys Rock!
    Toby

    Reply
  9. Maria

    Toby,

    Thanks for the kudos! We take the digital files and make a sheet of the images in Photoshop, as many as we can fit on one page. We’ve been doing this for years and the Copyright Office has accepted it.

    Reply
    1. Deanna V. Amirante

      Hi Maria,
      I am filing my first copyright online right now and have created a sheet as yours. My question is whether you have to upload each image individually as well or do you just upload the sheet with all the images and titles on them?
      Thanks!

      Reply
  10. Gordon Firemark

    Hi Maria,

    Terrific post.

    I want to make one recommendation for all artists who plan to register their works in groups. Do it every 3 months.

    As an attorney who helps artists, I see it all to often. Artist’s work is being infringed, but the work wasn’t registered. As a consequence, they can’t find an attorney to help them (for reasons explained below)

    Why?

    Well, in the copyright law, there’s a provision for a successful plaintiff in a copyright infringement suit, to receive:

    1. Statutory Damages ( meaning you don’t have to prove your actual losses… the judge or jury can simply set an amount), and;

    2. an award of his/her Attorneys’ Fees.

    But, these are only available if the work infringed was registered within 3-months of its first publication.

    So, the best practice for photographers, artists, songwriters, recording artists, and any other creators who wish to register their works in groups (called “folios” by the copyright office), is to do so every 3 months.

    One idea is to put this on your calendar for the first day of each quarter, or to register a folio every time you pay your quarterly taxes (if you do so).

    Reply
    1. Maria Brophy

      Gordon, thank you so very much for this information! Wow, you have changed the way I do things from here on.

      Starting today – every 3 months I file copyrights for work created in the previous 3 months.

      I had no idea the copyright laws were this strict. Thank you for letting us know.

      Reply
    2. Amanda

      I am extremely new to all this. Please excuse my ignorance, if you have filed copyright for a group of artwork do I have to copyright the same group every three months? How long is a copyright valid?

      Reply
    3. Vivian S. Bedoya

      Gordon, great advice! I have a question for you. If I shot images in 2009 and never published them but registered them this year, in case of infringement am I entitled to statutory damages and attorneys’ fees or out of luck because I did not register them within 3 months of their creation? Thanks for your help!

      Reply
    4. Erika

      Hello Gordon,
      You wrote in another post about group registration:

      1. It’s not that each work within a folio is allocated a percentage. The issue comes up when more than one work from a folio registered under a single filing is infringed. In that case, the copyright holder may only be able to collect statutory damages for a single infringement.

      Somehow I couldn’t reply on that post, so I have a question for you please: my work consists of illustrations, photographs and other design such as infographics. All these share one common theme; a type of fruit.
      Can I still register all these in one group? Or would it mean that if I would get several infringements from different parties related to that one group, that I could only get statutory damages for one case?

      Many thanks for your time!

      Erika

      Reply
    5. Colleen

      Thank you for your wise advise. I have started registering my artwork regularly and have made some costly mistakes. The published/unpublished criteria has been my challenge. The copyright office as informed me that when registering multiple pieces as published, they have to be a “set” not just created at the same time. Meaning, a diptych or a triptych would qualify, but not all the paintings created for say one show, or during one event. Just thought I’d pass that along for your readers

      Reply
  11. Jaime Haney

    Gordon, does that mean if you don’t copyright it within 3 months of completing a work you should not bother to copyright? What about if I post a picture of my work on my blog but don’t try to sell it until a year later? Or what if i post pictures of it and later I feel it’s not completed and then I go back and add more to it, will that be considered in time? Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

    Reply
    1. Gordon Firemark

      No, you should still register… because it’ll be required before you can sue an infringer under any circumstances.

      Also, the whole point of having a registration system is so that users of your work can search and find the owners of copyrighted works, to ask permission, pay license fees, etc.

      Registration puts the world on notice who owns the work and how to reach the owner.

      Reply
      1. Erika

        Hello Gordon,
        You wrote in another post about group registration:

        1. It’s not that each work within a folio is allocated a percentage. The issue comes up when more than one work from a folio registered under a single filing is infringed. In that case, the copyright holder may only be able to collect statutory damages for a single infringement.

        Somehow I couldn’t reply on that post, so I have a question for you please: my work consists of illustrations, photographs and other design such as infographics. All these share one common theme; a type of fruit.
        Can I still register all these in one group? Or would it mean that if I would get several infringements from different parties related to that one group, that I could only get statutory damages for one case?

        Many thanks for your time!

        Erika

    2. Erika

      Hello Gordon,
      You wrote in another post about group registration:

      1. It’s not that each work within a folio is allocated a percentage. The issue comes up when more than one work from a folio registered under a single filing is infringed. In that case, the copyright holder may only be able to collect statutory damages for a single infringement.

      Somehow I couldn’t reply on that post, so I have a question for you please: my work consists of illustrations, photographs and other design such as infographics. All these share one common theme; a type of fruit.
      Can I still register all these in one group? Or would it mean that if I would get several infringements from different parties related to that one group, that I could only get statutory damages for one case?

      Many thanks for your time!

      Erika

      Reply
  12. Tina Mammoser

    Just to add UK info: we have no registration system here. The advice from the IP solicitors that advise DACS (the Design and Copyright Society for fine artists) say the best thing you can do is just keep good records that include dates and progress images. They also advised writing the copyright symbol, name and year on all written work and on the back of artwork.

    For moral copyrights (a portion of the Berne Copyright convention that states the artist/author has to right to have the work credited to them) the standard statement for assertation is: “The right of [author name] to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him[her] in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988”. This is on the copyright page of most UK published books. As far as I’m aware the USA opted out of the moral copyright clause of the Convention.

    We do have the organisations DACS and ACID (for designers and craftspeople) who can help members with copyright infringement cases. And DACS also works with partner organisations in other countries.

    An important bit of legal advise I was given is that it is NOT worth registering with the Library of Congress in the USA if the work is not of USA origin. So an artist from outside and not living in the US or a US citizen permanently resident elsewhere gains nothing by registering. I asked specifically about this as an American citizen permently resident in the UK. All my work is deemed of UK origin.

    Reply
  13. TORIAN DEDMON,SR.

    THANKS, MARIA! ONCE AGAIN YOU GIVE SOME INVALUABLE ADVICE! I ACTUALLY SUCCESSFULLY FILED MY 1ST ART COLLECTION IN LATE 2011, BUT HADN’T CREATED AN IMAGE SHEET. I JUST FINISHED MY IMAGE SHEET AND WILL BE DOING THIS WITH EVERY COLLECTION I FILE. MATTER OF FACT, I’M GOING TO START ON MY NEXT IMAGE FILE NOW SO BY THE TIME I SUBMIT THE COPYRIGHT I’LL BE READY. WORTH YOUR WEIGHT IN GOLD,MY FRIEND! HOPE YOU AND THE FAMILY ARE WELL!

    Reply
  14. Tom Weinkle

    Thanks Maria, I started copyrighting things a few years ago, but found kindred spirits in the surprise of how easy it was. Thanks for helping all of us. I also appreciate looking back at your deal memo post, I have my fingers crossed for some work I’ve shown recently.

    Hope you and Drew are doing great!

    tom

    Reply
  15. Amber Savage

    Thank you Maria!
    I copyrighted my work for the first time last week (before I read this.) I love the idea of putting all your images on one sheet with titles. I was trying to upload each file individually and found it very difficult! I will do it your way next time!

    I have also read that you should copyright every three months.

    Thanks for the advice!
    Amber

    Reply
  16. FianArroyo

    Great article Maria! I am a firm believer in copyrighting ones work. I have won a couple settlements for infringements on my work…having the copyright filed was a lifesaver!

    I live in the Asheville, NC area about an hour and a half from Greenville. I will try and make it Oct. 1st for your talk at Furman.

    -Fian

    Reply
  17. alex colombo

    Thanks for this very informative article Maria – and all the great comments above 🙂 – I only copyright work that gets licensed but from the sounds of it I should do a better job so I’ll be joining the every 3-month registration crowd!

    Reply
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  19. Nellie

    Hey Maria! Thanks for the continued great information! 🙂

    I’m going through the application process now and am a little confused on published vs nonpublished…. If items are on our website are they published? Or only if they have been used for licensing/commercial application? I’m thinking I may have to do two apps, one for published, one for non. Can the published items be submitted in one sheet, and if so, do you just skip the title entry in step one of the application or state “see attachment” or something?

    Thanks so much!
    Nellie

    Reply
  20. mimi

    I live in Australia and the government’s website says “The moment an idea or creative concept is documented, on paper or electronically, it is automatically protected by copyright. Because it is automatic in Australia, there is no official registry or application process for copyright protection.”

    However there are websites offering ”paid” copyright registrations so I am unsure if the ”automatic copyright” is only for Australia and if I should get a paid copyright registration to cover my art worldwide…?

    Reply
  21. Lorenzo

    Thank you Maria for this resource of information. I searched this particular article before I submitted my first ever copyright requests. I just submitted for 17 for 2012. I appreciate all your advice!

    Reply
  22. cathy

    Hi Maria,
    Thanks for the info!! Can you register published works online (I can only find for info for registering UNpublished online) and if you can’t register published works online which forms (ex. VA plus a GR/PPh/Con) do you use to register a group of published paintings?

    Reply
    1. Megan Duncanson

      Great discussion, thank you for starting this Maria! I have come across an issue with the copyright office and registering a group of published images. I’ve registered in groups previously for an entire year, or other time frames and received my certificates from the copyright office, but a month ago I tried to register a group and the eco office contacted me and said they have no options for registering a group of published images this way. They told me I could only register a group of published images if they were published as a set, ie in a book, calendar, etc. Just because they were published in a specific time frame isn’t allowed. This could be a real problem for many artists. Anyone else experience this with the eco?

      Reply
  23. Michael J. Breyette

    I don’t know if most of the artists here should rely on this method of copyrighting multiple images. Having submitted a year of published works as a group under one fee, it was first approved but a year a more later I got a letter stating, “registration for published works must be limited to one or more works that constitute a single unit of publication, and that works offered for sale individually must be registered separately.” So copyrighting works in a group (such as a years work) that you sell individually under a single registration, is not valid. It was very annoying since the first years worth was initially registered as a group so I proceeded to register several more years worth that same incorrect way.

    Reply
    1. Maria Brophy

      Michael, thanks for sharing your story! And you are right, the copyrights for PUBLISHED works must be for items in a collection, created at the same time.

      I will make an update to this blog post – the Copyright rules regarding publications have changed over the years and it’s gotten stricter for PUBLISHED works.

      You can still file a huge group of unpublished works together on one application.

      Thanks for this, and I will update the article accordingly.

      Reply
      1. Jason Capezio

        Maria,

        Awesome information here, especially for a lot of people who are trying to get their artwork copyrighted and don’t know where to start or are trying to mull their way through the process. After reading through a few of the follow-up comments, and my own experiences and multiple calls to the copyright office; I’m looking to see if someone has some insight on my wife’s current situation.

        For the sake of this comment, we currently have five cartoon characters that we are looking to register. My wife has created a character sheet with various poses (front, back, side, sitting, etc.) and initially we were looking to file each artwork as a single piece of unpublished artwork. However, after reading through this article and some of the comments, I’m beginning to think this is not the best way to go, especially since I’m concerned about Gordon’s comment regarding apportionment. When I spoke with the copyright office, they stated that any piece of the artwork can be used outside of context (meaning we can use one part here, another part there), and we were covered the same if we filed as a single work or in a collection.

        Now, after reading this article over, it seems like registering the single character sheet as a collection is the way to go, now more than ever. However, I’m actually looking to see if I can get an answer from anyone who has filed a collection in the past, with multiple titles. From my understanding on how the collection works, and from researching many registrations via the search feature on eCO, I want to make sure I better understand how we’re going to organize this and file before paying them and finding out that it’s not what I was expecting on the flip side… Thus, I would like to validate my current thought process on how this registration would pan out.

        1) We would create a registration as a collection, with the intention of uploading all of the works into the one registration.
        2) We would add 5 individual titles to the collection, each with a separate name.
        3) Once paid and ready to upload the files, there should be an upload button in relation to each title that was identified, effectively allowing us to upload each artwork character sheet to its respective title.
        4) Once the registration has been filed, I should be able to successfully search each registration as a separate title within the eCO system. The only similarity I would see is that the copyright registration number is the same for each title.

        I’m hoping that my above assumptions on how this situation would pan out are correct. I realize that nothing is free in this world (as I am painfully aware of due to my legal costs with our previous trademarks and future business registration); however, hopefully someone will read this over and either provide a nod, or let me know that my assumptions are incorrect.

        Thank you to anyone reading this over, and a future thank you to those who may respond to my inquiry. 🙂

  24. Fian Arroyo

    Jason, the way you describe how you are going to file for a copyright seems to be the correct way to file for a collection, according to someone at the copyright office I spoke to a few years ago. It is the way I have been filing my collections since.

    You can file multiple images under different names but they have to have been created during the same year. You would name your collection under title type, select “title of work being registered” then type in your title.
    Click save and do it again with each individual title of art but under title type select “contents title” then type in title.

    After you go through all the steps you pay then upload your images. After uploading files make sure you go back to all cases, open case and click download complete.

    Hope that helps.

    -Fian
    Fian Arroyo Illustration,Inc.
    http://www.fian.com

    Reply
    1. Jason Capezio

      Fian, thank you for the follow-up. I remember reading over the “title types” on the website; however, I had not yet attempted to actually use them in the registration.

      If you don’t mind and have the time, I have another question regarding using the “contents title” to identify each individual title of these character sheets we are uploading.

      If we have 5 total works, and we have one title (let’s call it “Characters 2014 Q1”) for the “title of work being registered”, then 5 additional “contents title” sections (let’s say “cat”, “mouse”, “dog”, etc. respectively) for each upload, when the time comes to upload these files to the copyright office, I want to make sure I have an understanding of the upload requirements.

      From what you stated in your response, it sounds like we’ll have 6 titles in total for this registration; however, we’re only required to upload a file for each “contents title”, does this sound accurate? Or is there only one single upload deposit button for the collection as a whole, which we have to identify and link up the contents titles with each file in their respective “Brief Title” field during the upload?

      I want to make sure it doesn’t turn into a situation where we are required to upload an entry for the “title of work being registered” section, in addition to the 5 “contents title” line items (thus requiring 6 total items to be uploaded)? Or is it a scenario where in order to do all 5 works, we would do one “title of work being registered” and 4 subsequent “contents titles”, thus tying one of our artwork/upload to the “title of work being registered” line item?

      I’m probably putting more thought into this than needs to be and over-thinking things (the guy at the copyright office even told me I’m over-thinking some of the questions I was asking him LOL).

      I’m assuming by doing this way with the “title of work being registered” and the “contents titles”, in the catalog the “Application Title” would read as what we put for the “title of work being registered”, and the “Title” itself would be the “contents title” entry?

      So many late nights have been spent as of late researching and wrapping my head around all this. I really do appreciate the time you took to answer my questions. Thanks again!

      Reply
      1. Fian Arroyo

        Jason,

        I’m more than happy to help!

        When the time comes to upload your files, you will hit the browse button that is in the pop up window, select a file, then type in the name of that file in the box next to the box were the name of the image pops up. You repeat this with each image. When all the images have been selected, you hit the submit button (if I remember correctly) and you will be notified that your uploads have been submitted. Then as I said previously mentioned, go back to all cases, open case and click download complete. I usually do a screenshot of all the images you uploaded that are shown in a pop up window after you submit them to upload. Just in case something happens.

        “Title of work being registered” is just the title of the collection and isn’t uploaded just the files that are “contents title”. So you would upload 5 files.

        I’m not an attorney…but I did draw quite a few of them in the past… 🙂

        Hope that helps!

        -Fian

        Fian Arroyo Illustration, Inc.
        http://www.fian.com

  25. Melissa

    This is absolutely what I was looking for! Thank you so much for making it clear-cut and to the point! 🙂

    Reply
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  28. marcela lopez

    I copyrighted music in USA, I have many pieces so I made a book “Collection” of pieces cause I read in their site that is possible to do it like that, but they don’t ask you to be from the same year. My music have all different years of creation even so i had no problem. Maybe is different for pictures, I don’t see why thou. Anyway this was like 10 years ago.

    Reply
  29. lana

    Hi, Maria.
    Thank you for posting this information.
    Can I register artwork that was created several years ago (and was already online and for sale as prints since then)?
    If yes, can it only be done individually or in a bulk?

    Reply
    1. Maria Brophy

      Hi Lana, yes, you can register copyrights from older pieces. However, if they have been “published” then they have to be filed individually by piece or collector or by published date. Go to the copyright.gov website for details on how filing published works.

      Reply
  30. Erin

    Thanks so much for all this info. I wish I had sought it out sooner!

    I am eager to get all of my works registered, but I’m confused about the publication date. Say I created 20 works in 2014 and I want to register them all. Some were “published” (for sale) in February, some in June, some in September. Can I register all of these individual works with one registration? I guess what I’m asking is if the “publication date” is an actual date or the year in which they were published.

    Is it possible to register these as a collection in any way? Perhaps compile them into a book/catalog and register that? I would love to register all my work, but there’s no way I can afford to pay the fee for each individual work. Going forward, I will most certainly be registering my works in groups before the are published, but as for the backlog? If I have to pay the fee for each one, they simply won’t be registered. So is it better to register them in a compilation than not at all?

    Any insight you have would be helpful. Thanks!

    Reply
  31. Daniel Krug

    Great post Maria!
    I would like to group my images on 1 page to save on costs.
    What if 1 of the 10 works on the page is considered questionable as far as it’s copyright-ability, does that hold up the entire process, which is already long enough ? Also do all the works have to be related, like a collection ? In my case it would be for humorous t-shirts so I guess I could say it’s a t-shirt collection ?
    Also I guess they want separate registrations to make more money ?
    Thanks in advance for your and your followers help
    Dan

    Reply
  32. Erika

    Sorry Maria, there are some issues commenting on this post. I have a question for Gordon, but it keeps ending up under someone else’s comment!

    Reply
  33. Laurie Schaerer

    I have been selling photographs online and at art shows for 5 years, and had never considered that I should formally copyright my photos until I happened upon this article. I checked out the US website, and am just totally confused. I’m not sure where to even start now. I would love any suggestions.

    Reply
  34. jen montgomery

    What about multiple colorways of the same art. I registered an animal alphabet as 1 piece, but a few years later offered it for sale in another color. Do I have to register the art multiple times for color variations?

    Reply
  35. jen montgomery

    Have any of you heard of Blockai? It’s a free service for copyrighting artwork. For dealing with my back log of work, I am thinking about registering the top priority pieces with USCO and the rest with this Blockai. Moving forward, I will register my works with USCO as I create them. https://blockai.com

    Reply
  36. Mark Taylor

    Hi Maria. Thank you for this, well written and very clear. I on the other hand have my fathers negatives of his work in Newport RI as a freelancer. Americas Cup, presidents FDR, Ike Nixon Kennedy, Society Balls , mansions All hard to date. How does one copywriter an Archive? Regards Mark Taylor

    Reply

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