The latest news and information about copyright law and Copyright Office practices of interest to photographers.

The Copyright Office Wants to Hear from You

The Copyright Office recently issued a Notice of Inquiry on matters of interest to visual artists. The current director of the U.S. Copyright Office, Maria Pallante, has long had a strong interest in ensuring that the copyright system works for independent creators, including photographers, and this Notice is your chance to chime in. The big national photo associations like ASMP will inevitably be filing comments, but it’s always helpful for the Office to have input from the individuals themselves, so you should seriously consider filing something if you have the time.

All the information about the proceeding, including how to submit comments, is on the Copyright Office’s website. Here’s the summary of the Office’s official inquiry:

The U.S. Copyright Office is requesting written comments on how certain visual works, particularly photographs, graphic artworks, and illustrations, are monetized, enforced, and registered under the Copyright Act.  The Office is specifically interested in the current marketplace for these visual works, as well as observations regarding the real or potential obstacles that these authors and, as applicable, their licensees or other representatives face when navigating the digital landscape.


Photographers, graphic artists, and illustrators have expressed a growing list of concerns in recent years when speaking to both the Copyright Office and Members of Congress.  The Office is thus seeking to build upon its longstanding policy interest in these types of visual works, including the Office’s studies in a number of areas such as small claims, the making available right, resale royalties, registration, recordation, and the interoperability of records.  As always, the Office is interested in the perspectives of copyright owners as well as users of these creative works.  The Office notes that this is a general inquiry that will likely lead to additional specific inquiries.


Written comments are due on or before July 23, 2015, and reply comments are due on or before August 24, 2015.

Update: I’ve heard rumors that the Copyright Office is likely to extend the deadline for reply comments on account of the fact that August is a big vacation month. They haven’t made the official announcement yet, but if/when they do, we’ll be sure to update it here.

Two Copyright Hearings to Watch

There are to very important hearings taking place in Washington today for anyone interested in copyright issues, and in particular, the Copyright Office. Here’s the notification from the Copyright Office (the links to the Committees will lead you to live streams of each hearing).

On February 26, 2015, the Congress will hold two separate hearings relating to the functions and funding of the U.S. Copyright Office. Both hearings will begin at 1:30 pm and will be streamed through the respective Committee websites.


The full House Judiciary Committee will hear testimony from external witnesses regarding a variety of questions, including current and future statutory responsibilities, Constitutional issues, technology, fees, and appropriations. This hearing is part of the Committee’s commitment to review the copyright law to assess how well it is working in the digital age. The 113th Congress held nearly twenty hearings in 2013 and 2014 under the leadership of the House Subcommittee responsible for intellectual property.


The House Appropriations Committee will hold its annual hearing on the fiscal year 2016 appropriations request of the Library of Congress, which includes the Copyright Office budget. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington will testify. As always, the Register has submitted a written statement to the Committee, which will be posted tomorrow on the Copyright Office website, and will assist the Librarian with Copyright Office questions. Please note that this hearing follows the appropriations hearing on the Architect of the Capitol and the start time may therefore shift.

The witnesses for the first hearing include representatives from the American Bar Association, the American Intellectual Property Law Association, and the Software Information Industry Association, and Professor Robert Brauneis of George Washington University Law School, who spent a year in residence at the Copyright Office working on a special project to evaluate the current state, and future needs, of the national copyright recordation system, preparing a comprehensive report for the Register of Copyrights.

New Book from Art Law Journal

Our friends at Art Law Journal have just published a new free ebook called The Law of Creativity: Copyright for the Visual Artist which offers an easy-to-understand (and well illustrated) look at copyright law specifically as it pertains to visual artists. As described by its author:

The Law of Creativity, simplifies copyright law; discussing only those concepts important to the visual arts community, with only the information that is necessary to grasp the concepts, with a few stories and anecdotes added in to bring it all together. And since this ebook is made just for those working in the arts, the book is graphically designed to be appealing to the creative mind.

To get your free copy, all you have to do is sign up for the Art Law Journal newsletter (which I would highly recommend anyway, even if there weren’t a free book involved), and you can do that by clicking here.

New eCO Upload Mechanism

On January 24, 2015 the the Copyright Office released an update to its online registration system, eCO intended to streamline the way users upload deposit copies, which impacts the steps discussed on pages 54-56. Here’s the relevant portion of the notice from the Copyright Office announcement (you can read the full announcement here):

Redesigned process for uploading deposit copies: This release introduces a streamlined process for uploading copies of your work. After confirmation of fee payment, you can select files from your computer, upload them, and confirm completeness all on a single screen. In addition, the maximum size for each file uploaded has been increased from 170 MB to 500 MB. To see a tutorial on the revised process, please go to

I haven’t yet worked through the new process myself, but I did read through the tutorial [PDF] and found that it looks to be an improvement over the old method.