A few more comments on copyright registration:
1) The copyright is on the artwork as soon as the art is
completed. Usually this is in the Artist's name, unless
that copyright has been transferred to or purchased by
another party by contract or other agreement (i.e. work for
hire contract). Current copyright law states that the
artist does not have to add the word "copyright", use the
copyright symbol, or include the date in order for the
copyright to be valid.
2) The current registration fee is $20 per application.
This means one application and one $20 fee per published
image - along with TWO copies of the printed piece OR one
$20 fee, one application, and ONE copy of the illustration
if it is unpublished. It's true that you can group
unpublished works together into a collection, as long as
each work has that collection name. There is no limit to
the number of images which can make up a collection. For
most scientific illustrators, you want Form VA (for Visual
Arts). If you submit a collection you may also send along a
Continuation Sheet, on which you list the individual titles
of the works.
3) One exception to a point in Item 2: If you have several
pieces of art, such as 100 illustrations which were included
in the same book or series, you may use one application, one
$20 fee, and two copies of the book or series. This works
as long as the series was all published on the same day and
4) Registration does not mean PROOF of copyright ownership.
It's something like buying insurance - you may or may not
need to have registered the copyright. Yes, if someone
infringes and you take them to court, you must first have
registered the copyright. There are certain financial
reasons why it's best to register as soon as the art is done
- not after the infringement occurs. This is because it may
allow you to sue for STATUTORY damages rather than ACTUAL
damages, statutory damages being as much s $100,000 per
infringement. If you go to court, you still need to proove
the copyright is yours and you did the art. Registration
helps, but hopefully you also have your sketches and
reference materials in your files.
5) If you register everything you do (which is a good
idea, just in case) it costs lots of money. Think ahead.
Group your work into collections and register before they
are published. Once published, you don't have to register
again. As I understand, however, the Library of Congress
may find out and ask you for their two published copies.
6) If you haven't done submissions before to the Copyright
Office and are unsure if you're doing it right, consult a
copyright attorney. If the reviewer doesn't like everything
you sent - or says that something is missing - you must
provide it within the time stated. If you don't, you've
lost out and you can't try to register that image again.
7) If you have a published piece for which you DO NOT have
the printed copies for the submission, you must apply for
SPECIAL RELIEF from the copyright office. This is
permission not to send what they ask for. You may or may
not obtain this - it's at their whim and discretion.
8) You can also call the Copyright Office for help and an
advisor will assist you.
Have fun and good luck!
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