After several months of anticipation, the U.S. Copyright Office has finally released a new option for registering a group of short online literary works. Under the new “GRTX” application, authors can now register up to 50 individual short literary works in one application and for one fee, giving authors of short stories, blog posts, or online articles a more simplified and cost-friendly option to enjoy the benefits of a copyright registration in their works.
But this new group registration option is not without restrictions. For instance, the registration will only cover the text embodied in each work and not protect other forms of authorship, such as photographs, illustrations, and other visual materials that often accompany a blog post. Additionally, the GRTX option cannot be used to register emails, podcasts, audiobooks, or computer programs, even if these works otherwise meet the eligibility requirements outlined below.
And the most significant restriction appears to be that the GRTX application is not available for short online literary works created as a “work made for hire,” which is a work made by an employee within the scope of their employment or a work specially commissioned via a written agreement to be made for a specific purpose. Thus, an owner of a work made for hire should still use the standard copyright application and submit such works individually to the U.S. Copyright Office. Therefore, if a company desires to register blog or social media posts that are created by their employees under the scope of employment, they must still use the standard copyright application.
In addition, even if the author or co-authors transferred one or more of their rights in the work to a third party, then the author or co-authors must be named as the claimant or co-claimants for every work submitted using the GRTX application. The third party can later record the assignment of rights with the U.S. Copyright Office after the registration is issued.
Nevertheless, for a work to be eligible under the GRTX application option, each work:
- must be a “short online literary work” that includes poems, short stories, articles, essays, columns, blog entries, and social media posts;
- must contain at least 50 words and no more than 17,500 words;
- must be written by the same individual or co-written by same individuals as joint-authors;
- must claim each author or joint author as the copyright claimant or claimants for each work;
- must be first published online as a part of a website or online platform, which includes online newspapers, social media websites, or social networking platforms; and
- must be published within the same three-calendar-month period.
Despite these restrictions, the GRTX application is a step in the right direction for the modernization of the U.S. Copyright Office registration processes and provides both bloggers and other online content creators a streamlined process to enjoy the benefits acquired through copyright registrations in their works.