'The Copyright Office has a new registration option for what it is calling “short online literary works,” which includes blog posts, social media posts, and other short online articles. If your business provides content via the Internet, should you be using this new registration option to protect your work? What about online courses, podcasts, and other content?
Quick Recap of Copyright Law
If you need a refresher, copyright law is the branch of intellectual property law that protects what the law calls “original works of authorship.” When someone (called the “author” no matter what type of content we’re dealing with) creates a new work in a tangible format (on paper, electronically, recorded sound/film, etc.), that author is entitled to a bundle of rights we refer to as their “copyright.” Registering that copyright with the Copyright Office is the only way to enforce those rights.
Generally, each work must be registered separately, which means paying a fee to the copyright office each time you create a new piece of content. While the Copyright Office’s fees vary, at a cost of at least $45 per application (let alone potential legal fees), most entrepreneurs are not going to register every blog post, website article, social media post, etc. And while a group registration option has already existed, it is generally limited to groups of unpublished content. (I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t have time to run my business and prepare 50 articles or blog posts before publishing any of them.)
With so much content being created and published on the internet, it’s easy to see the need to protect that content, and your rights as the author or copyright owner. Hence, the new registration option.
Short Online Literary Works
The new Group Registration for Short Online Literary Works makes registering your copyright for some of your online content significantly more cost effective than if you had to register each blog post, for instance, separately. A short online literary work is any work containing between 50 and 17,500 words that is first published as part of a website or online platform. Rather than registering each work individually, this option allows you to register up to 50 such works at one time, saving as much as $3,185 in Copyright Office fees alone.
What are the requirements for registering a group of short online literary works?
In addition to the word count and making sure the works are first published online, there are a few other requirements you should be aware of before filing a copyright registration application:
Unfortunately, the law is never just black and white, and there are some important exceptions to the rules for short online literary works:
Wondering what work is valuable enough to protect? Confused by all of the registration options? Still relying on the myth of the “poor man’s copyright”? Get help from a copyright attorney before you find out someone is infringing your rights.