Saturday, November 14, 2009

US Copyright Office - 23-Month Wait on Registration

I am someone who strongly encourages everyone to register their copyright. Doing so is your ticket to federal court when you are infringed, and provides for remedies like statutory damages and repayment of attorney's fees when you win. These added benefits make pursuing a copyright infringer far more likely to result in a positive outcome for you.

On December 21, 2007, I visited, in person, the US Copyright Office to deposit a copy of my images from a specific set of assignments that took place the month prior, in November of 2007 between the 5th and 27th of the month. Above, you will see a scan of the top of that certificate, which is one of hundreds I have going back to 1989. It is important to note that the effective date of registration, as noted there, is the date the US Copyright Office received the registration - December 21st, 2007.

Yesterday, November 14, 2009, 23 months later (695 days), I received the envelope with my formal certificate in it. Below is the return address and post-mark for the letter, dated two days prior:

I'd like to think that this would happen faster, however, in the end, I've been protected all along. If you'd like to see the online version of this same registration as displayed at the US Copyright Office, click here and enter "VA0001687427" (which is how you enter the VA number with a series of leading zeros and no dashes) as shown below:

If you've got your own registrations, check them out here as well - it's refreshing to see your listings, but they're not all online, so don't panic if you don't see it online.

Previously, we posted a walk-through of the entire process of a copyright registration - have a look at it here. To see our sample PDF that would help you process your own copyright registration, along with pointers/guidance, click here.

For those of you who are wondering if there is a limit to the number of images you can register, after the jump is more conversation on that.

(Continued, after the Jump)

You are not obligated to use the GRP/CON form when submitting your registration. Regulations give you that option, however, if you do, your registration will be limited to 750 images per registration. Below is one example of a registration I did for an entire year, for images produced between January 10, and December 31, 1999, for a total of 23,131 images on one registration. For 1997, for example I registered 15,915, and for 2000 I registered 28,999 images.

Now, go register your images, and protect yourself!

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.


Tom Dills said...

I've been filing online since the first of this year and receiving my certificate about 60 days from date of filing.

John Harrington said...

Tom -

That's great, and great to know that you are getting a fast turnaround. Online filing with the eCO currently does not allow for group registrations of published images, so I presume you're registering either unpublished images, or images from one date. Either way, it's really great to know that you're registering!

-- John

Richard Wong said...

Thanks for sharing your experience, John. I just filed an electronic filing last week and am hoping it arrives in a timely manner. My previous snail mail submission was approved within a week of mailing it in.

Tom Dills said...

Hi John -

I needed to start sometime, so I just started registering with new images created this year. My images are seldom published before they are registered, so for me that is not a problem. My big task for this winter is to register all my pre-2009 work, which contains both unpublished and published images. THAT will be a much larger project!

Unknown said...

My experience has been similar to Tom's. I receive most registrations very quickly, but there is one flukey one that's still outstanding. It was filed for in July of last year (2008), the tracking shows they received the disc, and to date it is still processing.

Rich Green said...

Actually I was relieved to see it taking so long for someone else. I have 2 registrations from 2008 that I'm still waiting on. However with my recent online registrations, I have received my certificates within several months.

Athena said...

Hello! And thank you so much for all of your great information...

I did have a question for you though... I would like to do as you have done, and register many images, but I when I registered, I was looking for submission requirement info, and was wondering if anyone had any insight on what format is best/required format?

Can thumbnails can be submitted, or a zipped folder with subfolders (which may be from the same session, just grouped for different reasons, i.e. picks/non picks)...

Any help would be appreciated.

I am currently in what looks like may be an uphill battle with a former friend who will not remove images that I took from Facebook, and then I found he used them for his twitter acct, and I have no idea about his myspace.... ugh!

Thanks so much in advance!


Aperture Photography Forums said...

Its not just images that take this long to get the final approval and letter for on copyrights. I helped write a script that we copyrighted and it also took 23 months.

Also, did a little google searching that seems to be about the average currently. Maybe they need to add more workers :D

@Athena, you just put the images on a CD, generally we cram as many as we can fit on to one CD

matt ward said...

Hey John

Thanks for this article. I was pointed her by Carolyn Right in her recent Telluride lecture.

I am left confused by the "first date of publication field". Carolyn indicated that is has to be the exact date, but your application seems to show that you only have to show the year.

Could you please clarify that for me?

Thanks! - Matt.

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