Group Registration of Newspapers

In 2018, the U.S. Copyright Office adopted a final rule governing the group registration option for newspapers. The final rule makes a number of changes to reflect Office practices, promote efficiency of the registration process, and encourage broader participation in the registration system by reducing the burden on applicants. Among other things, the final rule requires applicants to file an online application rather than a paper application, and upload a complete digital copy of each issue through the electronic registration system instead of submitting them in physical form (although applicants may additionally continue to submit their issues on microfilm on a voluntary basis if the microfilm is received by December 31, 2019). In addition, the Library of Congress plans to incorporate digital copies of these registration deposits into its collections, and provide Library patrons with onsite access to them, subject to restrictions set forth in the final rule.

The final rule also clarifies the scope of protection for newspaper issues (compared to individual components appearing within those issues), that each newspaper issue in the group must be a new collective work and a work made for hire, and that the author and copyright claimant for each issue must be the same person or organization. The rule also requires applicants to submit a full month of issues.

In 2019, the Office amended this rule in two ways. The first amendment removed the prior requirement that claims be submitted within three months after publication of the earliest issue in the group. Publishers are now permitted to submit group registration claims regardless of when their issues were published. The second amendment was a technical change to remove the references to the option to submit newspaper issues on microfilm from the regulations when the phase-out period adopted by prior rule ends. Publishers are required to submit a digital copy of each issue, and beginning on January 1, 2020, the Office will no longer accept issues submitted on microfilm.