Copyright barrier for newspaper groups eliminated

The United States Copyright Office has removed a barrier for community newspapers seeking copyright protection, eliminating a restriction that required newspaper groups to register within a three-month window.

After Monday, group copyright registrations can be sought at any time.

In 2018, the Copyright Office rolled out a new platform to help community newspapers register their copyrights. Previously, only daily newspapers could register in batches. Community papers had to create an entry for each filing. Now, the portal for registration allows weeklies to register as well. But a three-month window for filing meant copyright owners had to be on their toes.

Registration is not necessary to indicate that content belongs to a newspaper. Under modern copyright laws, content is protected on its creation. But to sue someone for infringement, registration is necessary. Registration also helps newspapers earn possible revenues from those seeking publication licenses for content.

As of Feb. 18, the publication date deadline for filing each batch of issues is being dropped. The Copyright Office now says, “Any group of newspaper issues may be registered together at any time, as long as the remaining eligibility requirements have been met. The Copyright Office will no longer refuse to register group newspaper claims based on the date that the claim is received.”

In a statement released by the National Newspaper Association, NNA President Andrew Johnson, publisher of the (Mayville) Dodge County Pionier, expressed his appreciation to the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office.

“Every little hurdle that gets in the way of our protecting our publications can become a big one for newspaper executives who are always pressed for time and pulled in a thousand directions,” Johnson said. “Often we intend to take these important administrative steps on behalf of our newspapers, but the opportunity gets past us. Now, the registration opportunity is not lost forever. We are delighted that the Copyright Office has made our lives a little easier.”