If you have written an article, column, or short story that has been published in a magazine, newspaper, or other periodical, you may make a separate registration for your work. This kind of work is called a “contribution to a collective work.”

Under the present copyright law, the copyright in a separate contribution to a published collective work such as a periodical is distinct from the copyright in the collective work as a whole. In the absence of an express transfer from the author of the individual article, the copyright owner in the collective work is presumed to have acquired only the privilege of using the contribution in the collective work and in subsequent revisions and later editions of the collective work.

As is the case with all published works, a contribution, such as a pictorial or graphic work, to a collective work may appear with its own notice of copyright. However, the law does provide that a single notice covering the collective work as a whole can defeat a defense of “innocent infringement.”

See sl-35, Registering a Copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, for information on how to register a single contribution to a collective work. If you anticipate publication of a series of contributions during a 12-month period, you may be interested in special provisions that provide for registration of a group of contributions to a periodical. Group registrations must be filed on a paper Form GR/CP. Go to the Copyright Office website at www.copyright.gov, click on Forms, and see adjunct application Form GR∕CP. Note applicable instructions.

The deposit will be either one complete copy of the best edition of the entire collective work, the complete section containing the contribution if published in a newspaper, the entire page containing the contribution, the contribution cut from the paper in which it appeared, or a photocopy of the contribution itself as it was published in the collective work.

For further information on copyright, deposit requirements, and registration procedures, see Circular 1, Copyright Basics.


FL-104, Reviewed 01/2011