I am often asked how I go about registering my art with the Library of Congress.
Do I do each image individually? No – I’d go broke!
Do I do each collection separately? I used to but now I have learned the art of bulk registrations and save lots of cash each year.
Cheryl Hodgson has talked about this in several of her ask calls – you can get her first call for free by registering at www.AskCherylHodgson.com or buy the subsequent calls at www.AskAboutArtLicensing.com Attorney Sarah Feingold talks a lot about the ins and outs of copyright registration but not details about bulk registrations in her eBook, Copyrights for Artists*. Other artists’ attorneys have advised bulk registrations as well.
Here is how I register my art in groups:
I register new groups of art at the end of each quarter.
I put my art on 8/5 x 11 pages and save them as smallest size pdfs. Then I create a large pdf – sometimes 30-50 pages, and submit as a group each quarter. There are often several images per page. I submit the PDF electronically – it is currently $35 per submission and goes through much faster than submitting by mail. Go to www.copyright.gov for submission details.
The most important part of registering a lot of art at the same time is that you need to be EXTREMELY ORGANIZED. Save the pdf, print it out for backup. If you ever have an infringement issue, it is up to you to know which registration group the art in question was a part of. The kind people at the Library of Congress will not go through your files and figure it out for you.
Why do you need to register anyway? Don’t you own the copyright just by creating the art?
Yes. However, in the US, you can not take someone to court and receive damages or attorney fees for copyright infringement without having registered your art with the Library of Congress. No registration? No judge frowning at those who infringe upon your copyrights!
And it has to be the Library of Congress – websites that say they collect and date stamp your art to prove you made it and when only put money in the website owner’s pocket. It won’t protect you legally. Nor will mailing it to yourself. So spend the $35 per registration and protect yourself just in case…
I hope that helps and I wish you much success and little (if any!) copyright infringement!
– Tara Reed
P.S. Interestingly enough, the day the FAQ about registering copyrights in groups posted to my blog, I received a letter from the Library of Congress about my most recent group registration. (Funny how things happen like that sometimes.) It is a form letter explaining a few particulars and referencing some rules that pertain to registering in groups.
I believe the “work not covered by copyrights” that might have prompted me to receive this letter is the inclusion of word art with my images. Words and text aren’t covered by copyrights but need to be trademarked. I admit to not always taking the time to take them out of my registrations. 🙂
If you want to see the referenced regulations, I’m sure you can find them at www.copyright.gov