Brevity . . . Still the Soul of Wit, and Now, Less Expensive to Copyright!

U.S. Copyright Office introduces Group Registration for Short Online Literary Works

Shakespeare penned the words “Brevity is the soul of wit,” but ironically did not live by them. By some counts, his complete works use almost 900,000 words, and any hardcore Shakespeare theater-goer knows to pack a snack to survive the fours hours and 30,0000 words of “Hamlet.” 

Under the U.S. copyright system, however, Shakespeare could register his 30,000-word play for copyright protection in one transaction and pay only one fee. In contrast, authors of briefer works published online, e.g., recipes, columns, short stories, poems, blogs, social media posts, and other online articles, were required to register each work individually and pay a fee for each. 

Beginning October 29, 2020 in the United States, one can register a group containing up to fifty short online “literary works” with one application and with payment of one filing fee under the U.S. Copyright Office’s new “Group Registration for Short Online Literary Works” (GRTX)

To be eligible for GRTX registration, each work within the group must be:
  1. Published online, e.g., as part of a website or online platform, including online newspapers, social media websites, and social networking platforms.
  2. Composed of 50 to 17,500 words.
  3. Authored by the same individual or individuals.
  4. Published within a three-calendar month period.

Works for hire are not permitted, so if one wishes to register one’s website using GRTX, companies should consider alternative means of obtaining copy exclusivity from one’s employee or website consultant.

Upon registration, each work within the group will be covered as a separate work of authorship, the same as if it had been registered alone. That means the group is not considered a collective work. A competitor need only copy one of the works to be liable for copyright infringement.

Want to learn more about registering using GRTX? Contact us for questions and more information!

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