Claims to copyright in published and unpublished photographs can be registered in the Copyright Office. This form letter describes the methods available for applying to register groups of published photographs, including contributions to periodicals. For details about how to register single published and unpublished photographs, collections of unpublished photographs, and photographs published together in a unit, such as in a calendar or a book, see FL-107, Copyright Registration of Photographs. For complete details about application procedures, fees, and deposit requirements, see Circular 1, Copyright Basics; Circular 40, Copyright Registration for Works of the Visual Arts; and Circular 40a, Deposit Requirements for Registration of Claims to Copyright in Visual Arts Material.
Publication. Under copyright law, publication is the distribution of copies of a work—in this case, a photograph—to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership or by rental, lease, or lending. Offering to distribute copies to a group of people for purposes of further distribution or public display also constitutes publication. However, a public display of a photograph does not in itself constitute publication.
The definition of publication in the U.S. copyright law does not specifically address online transmission. The Copyright Office therefore asks applicants, who know the facts surrounding distribution of their works, to determine whether works are published.
Groups of published photographs. A group of published photographs can be registered on a single form with a single fee if (a) all the photographs are by the same photographer (if an employer for hire is named as author, only one photographer’s work can be included); (b) all the photographs are published in the same calendar year; and (c) all the photographs have the same copyright claimant.
You can use Form GR/PPh/CON, which includes Form VA (visual arts application), to register groups of published photographs. It is available on the Copyright Office’s website at www.copyright.gov. If you use Form GR/PPh/CON, you can apply to register up to 750 photographs on a single application. If you would like to register more than 750 photographs, you can do so with a single filing fee using Form VA if you identify the date of publication for each photograph on the images deposited with the application.
NOTE: For information about the Office's pilot program for electronic registration of groups of published photographs, see SL-39.
Published contributions to periodicals. Photographs published in periodicals (newspapers or magazines) in any 12‑month period can be combined on Form GR/CP, which includes Form VA, and submitted with a single filing fee. Form GR/CP is available on the Office’s website. Special rules apply: (a) the same individual author must have created all the photos; (b) no employer for hire can be named as author; (c) all the photos must have been published as contributions to periodicals within a 12‑month period; and (d) all the photos must have the same copyright claimant.
FL-124, Reviewed September 2012