New Year, New Copyrights
On January 3, the U.S. Copyright Office (the “Office”) published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register related to a potential new registration option for frequently updated news websites. The notice of proposed rulemaking comes in response to the increasingly popular digital medium for news providers as compared to its print counterpart.
Since the rise of news websites, the Office has been fielding concerns from publishers. In 2011, the Office addressed the inherent challenges in registering websites and content published on websites, including establishing an accurate record of ownership and the appropriate form of deposit given the number of contributing authors and rapidly updating content. Currently, applicants seeking to register news websites are required to submit a separate application, deposit, and filing fee for each website update. This method is not only time consuming and expensive, but also limits the value of protection established for content that is updated rapidly. The Office acknowledged that the options in place have too many limitations and do not consider the unique characteristics of news websites.
Based on the above, the Office instead proposed a new rule allowing publishers to register news websites as a collective work with a deposit composed of identifying materials, rather than the entirety of the website. The material may include examples of published updates, but at a minimum the material must represent “sufficient portions of selection, coordination or arrangement of authorship.” The proposed rule would be limited to “news websites” as defined by the office as, in part, “A ‘website’ will be defined as a web page or set of interconnected web pages that are accessed using a URL organized under a particular domain name.” If granted, the registration certificate would also include a notation that only compilation authorship was examined.
The Office is still in the early stages given it has only just published its notice of proposed rulemaking, but the proposed rulemaking may be the response that publishers have been seeking and result in an increase in publishers seeking copyright registration. Comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking must be received by the Office no later than February 20, 2024.
We will monitor and provide updates on any significant updates.