Literary Work

Select Literary if you are registering a nondramatic literary work, excluding a periodical or serial issue. Literary Works include a wide variety of works: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, textbooks, reference works, directories, catalogs, advertising copy, compilations of information, computer programs and databases. Note: This category also includes an article published in a serial, but not an entire serial issue. Electronic registration is not currently available for serial issues.

Work of the Visual Arts

Select Visual Arts if you are registering a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work. Visual Arts works include two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of fine, graphic, and applied art, photographs, prints and art reproductions, maps, technical drawings, and architectural works.

Work of the Performing Arts

Select Performing Arts if you are registering a musical work (with or without lyrics), a dramatic work, such as a screenplay, play or other script, a pantomime, or a choreographic work. Note: If the registration includes the sound recording as well, select Sound Recording as the type of work.

Sound Recording

Select Sound Recording if you are registering a sound recording. Also, select Sound Recording if you are registering both the sound recording and the underlying recorded musical, dramatic, or literary work(s), along with the sound recording of the work(s). Note: To register both the sound recording and the underlying work on a single application, the copyright claimant must own all rights in both works.

With one exception, sound recordings are works that result from the fixation of a series of musical, spoken, or other sounds. Exception: Under the copyright law, the sounds that accompany an audiovisual work, for example, a motion picture, are not defined as a sound recording. Select Motion Picture/Audiovisual as the “Type of Work” for sounds accompanying an audiovisual work.

Motion Picture/Audiovisual Work

Select Motion Picture/Audiovisual if you are registering a feature film, documentary film, animated film, television show, video, videogame, or other audiovisual work. An audiovisual work is a work that consists of a series of related images that are intended to be shown by the use of a machine or device, together with accompanying sounds, if any.

Works That Include More Than One Type of Authorship

If you are registering more than one type of authorship in a work, select the Type of Work that corresponds to the predominant material. For example, if you are registering a book that is mostly text and also contains a few photographs, select Literary Work. Or, if you are registering a book that is mostly photographs and contains a small amount of text, select Visual Arts. If the two types are almost equal, choose either Type of Work. EXCEPTION: For any registration that includes a claim in sound recording, select Sound Recording as the Type of Work, whether or not the sound recording is predominant.

If a work contains more than one type of authorship but you are registering only one element in it, select the Type of Work that corresponds to the element you are registering. For example, if a book is mainly text with one photograph, but you are registering only the photograph, select Visual Arts as the Type of Work.

The Type of Work is for classification purposes only and has no effect on the validity or legal benefits of the registration.


Single Serial Issue (Published)

Serials are works issued in successive parts bearing numerical or chronological designations and intended to be continued indefinitely. Examples are periodicals, newspapers, magazines, bulletins, newsletters, annuals, journals, proceedings of societies, and other similar works.

Serials which are frequently published can often be registered as a group. This option is significantly less expensive than registering each issue separately. (See the requirements for registration of a group claim: Newsletters, Newspapers, Serial Issues.) If you determine you are eligible to register a group claim, click “Home” and choose “Register a Group Claim.”

If the requirements for group registration are NOT met, then use the “Single Serial Issue” option. Note that this option can only be used for serials that have been published. If the serial issue has not been published, use the “Literary Work” option.

Note that registration for a serial issue covers only the content of that particular issue. A claim to copyright in a single issue of a serial does not give blanket protection for other issues published under the same serial title. Each issue is considered a separate work for copyright purposes. For example, registration of “vol. 1, no. 1” of Country Doctor applies only to that issue and not to “vol. 1, no. 2.”

The deposit requirement for a single serial issue is two copies of the serial issue being registered. (Send only one copy if the issue was first published outside of the United States.)

What Can Be Included on a Single Application

For published works, all works published in a single unit of publication and owned by the same copyright claimant may be the subject of a single registration. For unpublished works, detailed requirements apply—see below. A single registration is not appropriate for the elements of a work when they are owned by different copyright owners.

For more detailed information, see:

Collection of Published Works: Registration of Multiple Individual Works Contained in the Same Published Work

To register multiple individual works contained in the same unit of publication with a single application, the following requirements must be met:

Examples of published collections:

Example 1: CD entitled TORTURED contains 9 songs, all published for the first time

Song 1-8: by Al

Song 9: by Sue

Use separate applications. Each author owns the copyright only in his or her own song(s). Songs 1-8 can be registered with a single application, giving TORTURE as the Title of the Work Being Registered and listing the 8 songs as Contents Titles. Song 9 must be registered separately with a separate application, fee, and copy.


Example 2: CD entitled GAME PLAY contains 10 songs

Song 1-4: by Al & Bill

Song 5 & 6: by Mike

Song 7-10: by Linda (song 9 appeared in a previously published CD)

All authors signed agreements transferring the copyrights in their songs to Merry Songs Company.

Use a single application*. The copyright ownership is the same for all songs in the collection. Give GAME PLAY as the Title of the Work Being Registered and list all of the songs except song 9 as Contents Titles. (*Song 9 should be excluded because it was previously published. It may be registered separately based on the facts of first publication).

Collection of Unpublished Works: Registration of Multiple Unpublished Works as a Single Claim

To register a number of unpublished works with a single application and fee, they must be grouped as a collection under a Collection Title and must meet the following requirements:

Examples of unpublished collections—some qualify for registration with a single application and some do not:

Example 1: Collection entitled MORE BLUES AND HUES, containing 3 poems

Song 1: by Al

Song 2: by Al

Song 3: by Sue

Use separate applications. No single author wrote or cowrote every poem. Also, each author owns the copyright only in his or her own poem.

Al should register his poems with a single application, giving MORE BLUES AND HUES (or another collection title) as the Title of the Work Being Registered and listing his two poems as Contents Titles. Sue may register her poem separately.


Example 2: Collection entitled HUNKER DOWN, containing 4 poems

Poem 1: by Al & Bill

Poem 2: by Al & Bill

Poem 3: by Al

Poem 4: by Al

Use separate applications. Even though one author did write or cowrite every song, the copyright ownership of all the songs is not the same.

Al and Bill can register songs 1 and 2 with a single application, giving HUNKER DOWN (or another collection title) as the Title of the Work Being Registered and listing the two songs as Contents Titles. Al can register songs 3 and 4 with a separate single application, giving another collection title as the Title of the Work Being Registered, and listing these two songs as Contents Titles.


Example 3: CD entitled LIFE PATTERNS contains 3 songs

Song 1: by Al & Bill

Song 2: by Al

Song 3: by Al & Sue

All authors signed agreements transferring the copyrights in their songs to Merry Songs Company.

Use a single application. One of the authors contributed to every song, and the copyright ownership is the same for all songs in the collection because of the transfer of ownership from the authors.

On the application, give LIFE PATTERNS as the Title of the Work Being Registered and list the songs as Contents Titles.

Collective Works

A collective work is a work such as an anthology or encyclopedia or other collection in which a number of contributions are assembled into a collective whole. There are two types of authorship in a collective work:

When the two types of authorship are owned separately, they cannot be registered together on a single application. Each application requires a separate fee.

Example:

Linda wrote a short story and agreed to have it published in CITY LIFE, an anthology of 12 stories by different authors. Mike compiled and edited the collective work. Linda retains copyright ownership in her story TREE BY THE CORNER because she did not transfer copyright ownership. Linda may file an application for her story, giving TREE BY THE CORNER as the Title of the Work Being Registered, and giving CITY LIFE as the Title of the Larger Work. Mike acquired the right to use the 12 stories but did not acquire copyright ownership of any of them. However, he may file a application for the collective work authorship (the compilation and editing), giving CITY LIFE as the Title of the Work Being Registered.

Registration of a Single Work Containing Multiple Authorship Elements by Different Authors

A single registration cannot be made for a work consisting of multiple authorship elements (for example, text and illustrations, lyrics and music, sound recordings and photographs) if the copyrights in those elements are separately owned. If the elements are separately owned, they must be registered on separate applications. In order to register different elements of authorship with a single application, the ownership of the copyrights in all the elements must be the same. If the various elements were created by different authors, single registration is possible if either of two situations applies.

One possibility is that the different elements comprise a joint work. A joint work is defined in the copyright law as a “work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole.” In a joint work, all authors own an undivided interest in the entire work, without the need for any transfer of rights.

Another possibility is that the different elements were not prepared as a joint work, but ownership has been transferred (by written agreement or operation of law), and therefore the ownership of the different elements is the same. If this is the case (and for unpublished works, at least one author contributed to all elements), a single application may be used.

Examples of multiple elements by different authors:

Example 1:

Sound recording by Sue

Photograph by Mike

Sue and Mike did not intend their authorship to be merged into a unitary whole, or joint work, and did not transfer copyright to each other or to another party.

Use separate applications. Each author owns the copyright in only his or her own contribution.


Example 2:

Lyrics by Sue

Music by Mike

Sue and Mike created their authorships with the intention that their contributions be merged into a unitary whole, or joint work.

Use a single application. The copyright ownership is the same for each of the elements.


Example 3:

Text by Mike

Artwork by Sue

Sue and Mike created their authorships without intending their works to be merged into a unitary whole, or joint work, but they both transferred their copyrights to Merry Book Publishing.

Use a single application. The copyright ownership is the same for each of the elements.

Incorrect Type of Work Selected

The Type of Work you select determines the options that will be available as you complete the application. 

Once selected, the Type of Work selection cannot be changed.  If the Type of Work selected is incorrect, you will need to begin a new application: 

You should also discard the unused application: