Help: Periodicals

Contributions to Periodicals Tutorial

What is a “contribution to a periodical”?

For purposes of this group registration option, a “contribution to a periodical” is a separate and independent work that was first published in a periodical. Examples include an article published in a newspaper, a photograph published in a magazine, an illustration published in a journal, and other similar works.

For purposes of registration, a “periodical” is defined as “a collective work that is issued or intended to be issued on an established schedule in successive issues that are intended to be continued indefinitely. In most cases, each issue will bear the same title, as well as numerical or chronological designations.”

Articles, blog entries, artwork, photographs, or other contributions that were first published in an electronically printed (“ePrint”) publication may be registered with this option if that publication fits within the definition of a “periodical.”

An ePrint publication may be considered a periodical for purposes of registration if it is fixed and distributed online or via email as a self-contained work, such as a digital version of a tangible newspaper, magazine, newsletter, or similar publication.

As a general rule, websites are not considered periodicals for purposes of registration.

When does a group of contributions qualify for a single registration under 17 USC §408(c)(2)?

A group of contributions to periodicals may be registered with this group registration option if all of the following conditions are met:

  1. All of the contributions must be created by the same author. The author must be an individual (not an employer for hire).

  2. The copyright claimant for all the contributions must be the same person or organization.

  3. The application must identify each contribution, including its date of first publication and the periodical in which it was first published.

  4. One copy of the entire periodical issue or newspaper section in which each contribution was first published; or a photocopy of the contribution itself; or a photocopy of the entire page containing the contribution; or the entire page containing the contribution cut or torn from the collective work; or the contribution cut or torn from the collective work; or photographs or photographic slides of the contribution or entire page containing the contribution as long as all contents of the contributions are clear and legible are (is) deposited; and

  5. The application identifies each contribution separately, including the periodical containing it and the date of its first publication; and

  6. For contributions that were first published before March 1, 1989, in addition to the conditions listed above, each contribution as first published must have borne a separate copyright notice, and the name of the owner of copyright in the work (or an abbreviation or alternative designation of the owner) must have been the same in each notice. For contributions first published on and after March 1, 1989, use of the copyright notice is optional.

Applying for a Group Registration of Contributions to Periodicals

When registering a group of contributions to periodicals, select the type of group that best describes the contributions you are registering. As long as they meet the eligibility requirements for group registration (outlined above), the contributions may be registered together, even if they are entirely different in nature, type, or content.

Contributions to Periodicals TX:   Select this option to register nondramatic literary works consisting primarily of text. Examples are fiction, verse, articles, news stories, features, essays, reviews, editorials, columns, quizzes, puzzles, and advertising copy.
Contributions to Periodicals VA:   Select this option to register works of the visual arts. Examples are photographs, drawings, paintings, prints, art reproductions, cartoons, comic strips, charts, diagrams, maps, pictorial ornamentation, and pictorial or graphic material published as advertising.
Contributions to Periodicals PA:   For works of the performing arts. Examples are music, drama, choreography, and pantomimes.

If you intend to register contributions that fit within both of these categories, choose the type of group that would be most suitable for the majority of the contributions in the group.

For the current fee for a group registration of contributions, please consult the Copyright Office Fee Schedule on our website.

You must submit one complete copy of each contribution listed on the application. The deposit may consist of the entire issue of the periodical containing the contribution. If the contribution was first published in a newspaper, the deposit may consist of the entire section in which the contribution appeared. Alternatively, you may submit one complete copy of the particular pages within the periodical where the contribution was first published.

The deposit must be submitted in a digital format, and the contributions must appear in the precise form in which they were first published in the periodical. Specifically, each contribution must be contained in a separate electronic file in PDF, JPG, TIFF, or any other electronic format that has been approved by the Office. A current list of acceptable file formats is posted on the Office’s website. The electronic files must be uploaded to the electronic registration system, preferably in a .zip file containing all the files. The size of each uploaded file must not exceed 500 megabytes, although you may digitally compress the files to comply with this requirement. Guidance on how to upload the files is available on the Office’s website.

Note: If you are unable to submit a digital copy of the contributions or if you are unable to upload them through the electronic system, you may request special relief from the deposit requirements. For information concerning this procedure, see chapter 1500, section 1508 of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition.

When may an application for a group registration be filed?

The main advantage of a group registration of contributions is that it allows any number of contributions published within a twelve-month period to be registered with one application, deposit, and registration fee.

That said, the Copyright Office encourages applicants to submit their claims on a quarterly basis (i.e., every three months), instead of submitting them on an annual or semi-annual basis.

A contribution to a periodical must be registered in a timely manner to seek statutory damages and attorney’s fees in an infringement action. An author may seek these remedies if the contribution was registered (i) before the infringement began, or (ii) within three months after the first publication of that work.

To secure these benefits, applicants should submit their claims within three months after the date of publication for the earliest contribution in the group. By doing so, the author will preserve his or her ability to seek statutory damages and attorney’s fees for any infringements that may occur after the effective date of registration, as well as any infringements that may occur within three months after the publication of each work in the group.

What Constitutes Publication of a Contribution?

“Publication” is the distribution of copies of a work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending. Offering to distribute copies to a group of persons for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display, also constitutes publication. A public performance or display of a work does not, in and of itself, constitute publication.

The applicant must determine whether each work has been published or not. If you determine the works have been published, provide the complete date of first publication for each contribution in the spaces provided.

Date of First Publication

Give the month, day, and year the work was first published in any country. If you do not know the exact date of first publication, give the approximate month, day, and year.

Nation of First Publication

Select the nation of publication from the drop-down menu. If the work was published in the United States and another country on the same day, give “United States” as the nation of first publication.

Work Made for Hire

A work made for hire is either

  • a work created by an employee as part of his/her regular duties. A person is an employee if the hiring party has the right to control the manner and means by which the work is created. Courts have considered certain factors in the employment relationship, such as whether taxes are withheld or benefits given, to determine whether the contributor is an “employee” under this sense of the definition. See Circular 9.
  • or
  • a specially commissioned work for certain categories of works and only if there is a written agreement between the employer and employee stating that the work is made for hire. Specially commissioned works must fall into one of the following categories:

    1. contribution to a collective work
    2. part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work
    3. translation
    4. supplementary work
    5. compilation
    6. instructional text
    7. test or answer material for a test
    8. atlas

If a work is made for hire, the employer is the author. See “statutory definition” below.

Statutory definition

A work made for hire is defined as:

  • A work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment, or

  • A work specially ordered or commissioned for use as a contribution to a collective work, as a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, as a translation, as a supplementary work, as a compilation, as an instructional text, as a test, as answer material for a test, or as an atlas, if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work shall be considered a work made for hire.

    A supplementary work is defined as a work prepared for publication as a secondary adjunct to a work by another author for the purpose of introducing, concluding, illustrating, explaining, revising, commenting upon, or assisting in the use of the other work, such as forewords, afterwords, pictorial illustrations, maps, charts, tables, editorial notes, musical arrangements, answer material for tests, bibliographies, appendices and indexes.

Doing Business As

You may give the name under which an author does business as long as the two names represent one and the same entity. The relationship may also be expressed as “trading as,” “sole owner of,” “also known as,” and “acceptable alternative designation.” Where an individual is doing business as an unincorporated organization, the organization is not a separate legal entity. Certain types of organizations such as corporations and partnerships, however, are separate legal entities and should not be listed here.


John Smith (author) doing business as Smith Publishing Company
Sue Jones (author) trading as Jones Productions

Dates of Author's Birth and Death

The author's Year of Birth is optional but is useful as a form of identification. Note that, if given, this information will appear in the public record.

If the author is deceased, the copyright law requires that the Year of Death be included in the application (unless the author created the contributions anonymously or under his or her pseudonym and the author’s real name has not been disclosed in the application).

Author's Citizenship or Domicile

Give the country of which the author is a citizen and or the country in which the author is domiciled. A domicile is the place where an individual maintains his or her permanent home.

Anonymous Work

A contribution is considered “anonymous” if the author’s real name does not appear on the copies of that work. If all of the contributions in the group are anonymous, you may:

  • reveal the author's identity in the registration record, even though the author created the contributions anonymously, or

  • check the “Anonymous” box and leave the author fields blank, or

  • write “Anonymous” in the last name field.

Note that if a work is “made for hire,” you must name the employer as author. In any case, you should check the anonymous box.

Pseudonymous Work

A contribution is considered “pseudonymous” if the author is identified on the copies of that work with a fictitious name. If all of the contributions in the group are pseudonymous, you may:

  • reveal the author's identity in the registration record, even though the author created the works under his or her pseudonym, or

  • leave the author fields blank.

In either case, you should check the pseudonymous box and give the author’s pseudonym in the space provided.

Author Created

Check the appropriate boxes to describe the copyrightable material that the author created

  • Text may be used to describe contributions that contain a series of words or phrases, usually forming complete sentences that explain or narrate, such as articles, stories, or essays.

  • Photograph(s) includes photographic images.

  • Illustrations may include works such as two- or three-dimensional artwork, illustrative matter such as drawings, cartoons, or other non-photographic pictorial representations.

  • Other may be used to briefly state (in general terms) authorship that is not described in the boxes listed above.

Owner(s) of All Contributions

As mentioned above, the copyright claimant for all the contributions must be the same person or organization. Do not name as “claimant” someone who owns the copyright in only some of the contributions in the group.

Transfer of All Rights

A person or organization that is not an author may be named as the copyright claimant, but only if that party obtained ownership of all rights in the contributions, either in writing or by operation of law. Written transfers must be signed by the party transferring the copyright or his or her authorized agent. Copyright ownership may also be transferred by the provisions of a will or by operation of law, such as state community property law.

Transfer Statement

If the author of the contributions is not the copyright claimant you must provide a transfer statement explaining how the claimant obtained ownership of these works. “By written agreement” includes “by assignment” or “by contract.” “By inheritance” (which may be “by will” or “by intestate succession”) applies only if the claimant obtained ownership from a person who is deceased. If these phrases do not adequately explain how the claimant obtained ownership of the contributions, select “Other” and give a brief statement explaining how the copyright was transferred.