How to Copyright a Collection

By Thomas King

Copyright protection is automatically granted as soon as an original work of authorship is fixed in a "tangible medium of expression," such as a compact disc. Nevertheless, it is beneficial to register original works with the United States Copyright office. Unpublished works may only be registered as a "collection" if the elements of the collection are assembled in an orderly form, the elements bear a single title, the copyright claimant in all the elements and in the collection is the same, and the elements are by the same author. Published works may be published as a "collection" with the additional requirement that they were first published as a collection in the same publication.

Copyright protection is automatically granted as soon as an original work of authorship is fixed in a "tangible medium of expression," such as a compact disc. Nevertheless, it is beneficial to register original works with the United States Copyright office. Unpublished works may only be registered as a "collection" if the elements of the collection are assembled in an orderly form, the elements bear a single title, the copyright claimant in all the elements and in the collection is the same, and the elements are by the same author. Published works may be published as a "collection" with the additional requirement that they were first published as a collection in the same publication.

Step 1

Navigate to the United States Copyright Office website. Click "Forms" and scroll down to "Group Registration Forms." Click the appropriate group registration form. For example, click "Form GR/PPh/ CON" to register a collection of published photographs.

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Step 2

Print the form and fill it out using a pen with black ink.

Step 3

Mail the form, along with a check for the associated fees, to the address listed on the form. Note that forms for "collections" cannot be sent electronically.

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