Group Registration of Updates to a News Website

The U.S. Copyright Office has published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register to update its regulations by adding a new registration option for frequently updated news websites. The proposed rule will enable online news publishers to register a group of updates to a news website as a collective work. The accompanying deposit will be composed of identifying material representing sufficient portions of the works, rather than the complete contents of the website.

This registration option is proposed to address the challenges associated with existing registration options for frequently updated news websites. The rapid pace at which many web-based materials are created and updated presents a challenge for copyright owners seeking to protect online news works. Online news publishers have expressed concern that the registration options currently available to them are expensive and burdensome. The Office is striving to balance copyright owners’ desire for more usable registration options, the importance of an accurate public record, and the need for an efficient method of facilitating examination. After careful consideration, the Office proposes this rule with the anticipation that it will lead to broader participation in the registration system.

Under the proposed rule, the group may include the initial version of the website that was published in the calendar month specified in the application along with subsequent updates that were published within the same month. To qualify for this option, the website must be considered a “news website” as defined by the Office, and the identifying material deposited must include a sufficiently original selection, coordination, and/or arrangement of material to constitute a copyrightable compilation. If the Office registers the claim, the registration certificate will include a notation that only compilation authorship was examined.

Finally, the Office is aware of the technological constraints of the current electronic registration system and expects to revisit the features of this registration option, especially once its web-based, cloud-hosted Enterprise Copyright System is in place.