The Copyright Office goes Electronic!

This is cool—I signed up to be a beta-tester for the copyright office's new electronic registration system. After I input my login name and password, I was directed to a series of screens asking for the typical information. When I was done, I added the registration to a shopping cart, and had the option to register another image, or pay. It even lets you save your registration as a template for future use. I paid easily through a government website, then uploaded the image. Voila! It was that easy.

Those of you that know me, know I am a big proponent of copyright registration. Here's why I think this is a great leap forward:

1. Uploading your image electronically will help to make sure it will be included in any searchable online image database (if one ever becomes available.)

2. Registering online provides your most recent contact information to the copyright office, including email, fax and alternate phone number (cell). These items are not on the current paper registration forms. The more contact information you include, the easier it will be for possible licensors to find you (alternately, harder for possible infringers to say they couldn't find you.) This is important especially if you've moved and have your old address on previous registrations.

3. You save money! The fee is $35 for online registration versus the $45 fee for paper registration. You also save money on courier fees.

4. You save time. You are protected from infringements the moment your registration reaches the copyright office. Before, I sent them overnight by FedEx and they were received the next day. Now they are received immediately and I'm protected immediately.

5. More money saving—a new feature that is being considered is allowing you to enter the titles of each item on your group registration for a fee—$1 each title electronically or $3 each title traditionally. Currently individual titles from group registrations are not searchable, so this in itself would be big step forward.

6. This will make it harder for those Orphan Works people to *claim* they can't find you, and thus use your artwork without your consent, with no penalty to them.

If you want to sign up too, go the the Copyright Office's webpage and click on the left where it says "Beta Testers Sought for Online Services."

If you want more information on the Orphan Works issue, go to Illustrator's Partnership or Graphic Artists Guild websites.

And if you can't get enough of this geeky copyright talk, then head on over the Pamela Parker's BLOG called, what else, Copyright Talk!


Update part deux!