NMR files comments urging the FCC to protect the Open Internet

Today, New Media Rights joins hundreds of thousands of consumers, creators, and businesses in filing public comments about the future of Internet.  The Federal Communications Commission now has an opportunity to choose a communications future of innovation, creative exchange, and consumer choice, rather than one where powerful broadband Internet companies can alter the Internet to support entrenched business models.

Specifically we are urging the FCC to reclassify broadband internet access providers as common carriers subject to Title II of the Telecommunications Act, and to reconsider its recently proposed Net Neutrality rules. Preserving an Open Internet is one of the most important social, economic, and legal issues of the twenty first century. It is critical that the FCC have the authority to protect it, and then that the FCC actually uses its authority to enact and enforce rules that uphold the tenets of an Open Internet for years to come.

In our filing, we stressed several important points:

• Broadband internet access speeds and quality in the United States are lagging behind the rest of the world and broadband internet access providers have no motivation to innovate and improve access because they do not compete. The FCC must have the authority to address issues raised by these powerful, entrenched broadband internet access providers.
• American innovators, creators, and consumers need world class internet speeds and quality at affordable prices or their ability to do business and compete in the global online marketplace will be severely limited.
• Broadband internet access providers have already taken actions that violate accepted tenets of an Open Internet (Transparency, No Blocking, No Discrimination), such as Comcast’s throttling of Bittorrent data, and AT&T’s sponsored data plans for mobile broadband.
• The FCC must reclassify broadband internet access providers as common carriers if it is to have any hope of having the authority to pass the kind of rules necessary to protect Net Neutrality.
• Reclassification of broadband internet access providers as common carriers, and consequently reclassification of broadband internet access as a “telecommunications service” as opposed to an “information service” (which it is currently classified as), is necessary because internet access is a distinctly different service from other “information services”. Broadband internet access has been wrongly grouped together with services that like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and others and have thus been able to maintain enormous market power while being subject to very little oversight.
• The FCC must reconsider its proposed rules, because do not adequately protect key tenets of Net Neutrality. The “No Commercially Unreasonable Practices” rule in particular must be revisited in order to bring it more in line with its much more effective 2010 version – “No Unreasonable Discrimination” – in order to ensure that broadband internet access providers cannot abuse their power by discriminating between those who are willing or able to pay for faster access to end users and those who are not.

Again, New Media Rights urges the FCC to take advantage of this important opportunity to ensure that America’s internet ecosystem will remain free to create, innovate, and thrive long into the future, rather than captured by business practices of entrenched broadband internet access providers.

Read the entire comment here

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Fine print to plain english: things to look out for as a Kindle World author

Photo Courtsey of  Jemimus Attribution 2.0 Generic

With books like Fifty Shades of Grey flying off the shelves, the question of the commercialization of fan fiction is once again at the forefront. While fan fic authors have been steadfastly devoted to their art since before the Internet, emerging technologies have brought about new scrutiny to what this community really means for traditional media giants and who, if anyone, should be able to profit from fan fiction.

About a year ago, Jeff Bezos decided to set aside some digital real estate just for the fan fic community. Amazon’s Kindle Worlds is an e-book publishing platform for fan fiction, and works like this: Amazon partners with copyright owners, like Alloy Entertainment, who license to Amazon its fan fiction publication rights. These licensors are known as “World Licensors,” and by licensing their “World,” fans can create and profit off of their fan fiction through a royalty system.

Among the first “Worlds” that made up this new universe were CW’s Gossip Girl, The Vampire Diaries, and Pretty Little Liars. Kindle Worlds has since added G.I. Joe, Veronica Mars, and seventeen other Worlds. The question is, why would readers buy works from Amazon when there is an endless supply of free fan fic from other Internet sites? Fanfiction.net, for one, is the world’s largest fan fiction archive and forum where writers and readers come together to do just this. The recently launched Archive of Our Own (created by the Organization for Transformative Works) is another space online where fans have come together to share their  fan faction and other original fan works in a non-commercial space.

The difference of utilizing the Kindle Worlds platform has been boiled down to three main points: (1) monetization for authors (each e-book costs between $0.99 to $3.99, but this is set by Amazon); (2) does not require constant Internet connectivity; and (3) a minimal level of quality that Amazon ensures by having final say on what will be made available. See Kindle Worlds Publishing Agreement Section 7(c).

On that note, we’re going to get real with the Kindle Worlds Publishing Agreement. Here’s what we found to be important to keep in mind if you are, or are considering to become, a Kindle Worlds author.

The Benefits and Disadvantages of Using Kindle Worlds

Exposure to Amazon’s User base. As a fan fic writer on Kindle Worlds, you get exposure to Amazon’s vast audience and user base. That said, you cannot market and promote yourself as being affiliated with Amazon or the original licensor. Also, make sure you’re only including up to 20% of your creative work (for free) on your website or blog to promote yourself as an author on Kindle Worlds. See Kindle Worlds Publishing Agreement Section 10. If you don’t abide by these rules, do not be surprised when Amazon ceases publication of your work (or removes it altogether).

Opportunity to earn money. By submitting a creative work to a World(s) of your choice, Amazon will pay royalties to you for all copies sold. The standard digital royalty rates are broken down between works of over 10,000 words (35% of net revenue) and short works of between 5,000 – 10,000 words (20% of net revenue). Net revenue is based off the gross amount Amazon actually receives from the sale, less returns, half of Delivery, and other factors. See Section 5(a) for the full definition. Also, if you have a problem regarding the royalty payments, make sure to speak up within six months after the date the statement is made available; otherwise, you may not be able to resolve past royalty mistakes. See Section 5(e).

Quality control. As a Kindle Worlds author, you will be held to Amazon’s quality control regulations. This means making sure there are no typos, and ensuring correct alignment, formatting, and linking across Amazon’s many products and services, i.e. Kindle devices, Amazon.com, iOS, Android, and reading apps. It’s easy to submit your stories online, and you have access to Amazon’s free programs and services to design covers or enhance your work’s quality. Keep in mind that each of your submissions will be additionally subject to that particular World’s guidelines. See Section 7(a).

Amazon usurps all your creative rights. By submitting a story to Kindle Worlds, you grant Amazon Publishing an exclusive license to your work for the term of the copyright. This includes global publication rights on any new elements you’ve created. Amazon can then use your ideas to make more money, i.e. licensing your work to others for a fee, and does not need to compensate or even notify you of this Further, Amazon has reserved the right to create movies, TV shows, games, merchandise, and other works based on your Kindle Worlds submissions. If such a future deal is struck, you’ll simply continue to get royalties from sales of your fan fiction but not these other deals. See Sections 4(a) & (b). Keep in mind that because this right is exclusive, you will not be able to create anything associated with your work other than more written fan fiction; this includes any related merchandise, outside fan art, and even YouTube spin-offs!

No crossovers allowed. Although you may have written an epic Veronica Mars/Gossip Girl crossover, you won’t be able to publish it on Kindle Worlds for now. Amazon is currently trying to get content owners on board with the idea of mixing and matching across Worlds, however, so stay tuned.

Amazon can use your name and “likeness.” Depending on who you are, this may be either a benefit or a disadvantage. In any case, it is worth noting that by using Kindle Worlds, Amazon may now use your name, information, and “likeness” worldwide for any purpose in connection with your work and participation in their platform. For example, say Amazon wants to promote its fan fic platform and your work is particularly popular and representative of its success. Under this provision, it can now blast out your name and photo in its newsletter or post a video interview of you on its website.

You waive some other pretty important rights. In order for Kindle Worlds to function the way Amazon ideally envisions it, participants must waive any legal claims that pertain to their rights being infringed from any use of their work. See Kindle Worlds Publishing Agreement Section 6. Translation: don’t complain how Amazon, copyright owners, or other fan fic authors use and contribute to your work because you have essentially contracted away the right to fight back against any reuse of your work that you don’t like. 

Key Points to Consider Before Entering this Alternate World

As an author of Kindle Worlds, you are promising that you are the sole owner of all rights to your work and that none of it violates any law or regulation. See Section 12(a)(1)-(3). By extension, if a third party brought a claim against you, saying that you did not have all the rights required to make your work (because so much of it has been “borrowed” from people other than the original content creator ), this will all be on you. Moreover, Amazon may hold all royalties due to you until such issues are resolved, and if necessary, require you to return any applicable payments. See Section 5(f)(2).

If Kindle World’s limitations and regulations don’t stifle creativity by their mere breadth, they can be seen as a careful, first step toward clarifying the role of commercial fan fic in society. But like many first steps, Kindle World’s isn’t without its stumbling points, points which can hopefully serve as lessons for future creators and entrepreneurs in this space.


Irene is a second year law student and is based in San Diego, California. She received her BA in Media Studies at Scripps College and her MBA at KAIST Business School in Seoul, South Korea, with an emphasis in IT & Media Management.

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New Media Rights #Oneof1000 Celebration

Are you #Oneof1000?

New Media Rights was founded on the idea that legal services provided for the good of the public should take into account not only the financial need of a client, but the social good generated by the client’s activities.  As part of that mission New Media Rights provides direct legal services that help hundreds of people every year. Earlier this summer we passed the 1000 mark, that is to say we’ve provided direct legal services in over a thousand matters since 2010! And we think a little celebration is in order!

In order to celebrate we’ve got two big things planned. 1) A campaign we’re launching to get the word out about just how many people we’ve helped and grow our supporter base, and 2) a celebration we’re inviting you to August 21st at our new headquarters.  You can get tickets to the event here.

We're celebrating both our past accomplishments as well as some of our amazing accomplishments this year including:

#Oneof1000 and Supporter campaign

Are you one of the over one thousand people we’ve directly helped? Maybe you benefited from one of our educational guides online, a workshop we gave, or one of our policy accomplishments? Maybe you cut your teeth as a law student here at NMR?  If you were helped by NMR in any way, or just want to show your support for our work we’d love you to share this milestone on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, your blog, Instagram, Vine etc using the hashtag #Oneof1000.  Not sure what to share? Here’s a sample tweet to get you started.

I am #Oneof1000 creators, startups and internet users helped by @newmediarights free & nominal cost legal services!http://goo.gl/sVV0cz

And if you want to support NMR even more, please consider becoming an NMR supporter today! It’s donations like yours that allow us to reach amazing milestones like this.

#Oneof1000 Celebration August 21 at CyberHive in San Diego!

But we’re just not having a celebration online; we’re having an IRL party to celebrate. Join us August 21 at 6pm for a celebration of the work we’ve done and the work we’ve yet to do. More details to follow, but early planning meetings indicate a strong possibility of special guests and some seriously legit tacos (Art Neill, our Executive Director, knows someone who knows alguien)!   Your #Oneof1000 posts may even make an appearance!

We’ll be offering tickets to the event for a nominal fee (to cover food and drink) through Eventbrite. More information about the event can also be found on the Facebook event page, but you'll still need to buy your ticket through Eventbrite.

Eventbrite - New Media Rights #Oneof1000 Celebration


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New Media Rights @ VidCon 2014!

New Media Rights is excited to announce that we’ll be returning to VidCon 2014, THE conference for YouTubers. VidCon will take place at the Anaheim Convention Center June 26-28. And this year you’ll have a chance for a double dose of NMR copyright YouTube goodness!

If you’re attending the industry track, catch Executive Director Art Neill on the “Copyright on YouTube?” panel at 3pm Thursday in room 213.  In addition to Art, the panel will feature in house council from innovative companies like Corridor Digital and Loudr.

If you’re attending on the community track, you'll also have a chance to catch an awesome panel on copyright entitled appropriately enough “Copyright on YouTube” at 11am on Friday in room 202. Jon Bailey, the voice of Honest Movie Trailers will moderate the panel which will focus on the practicalities of copyright on YouTube.

So if you’re at VidCon, please stop by and check out these amazing panels!

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Executive Director Art Neill to speak on user-generated and "fan" content at Copyright Society of the USA's Annual Meeting

New Media Rights Executive Director Art Neil will be speaking on a panel Monday June 8 regarding user-generated content and fan productions at the Copyright Society of the USA's 2014 Annual Meeting.

Here are the details

Crowd-Sourced Editorial Content and Fan Productions

The panel will explore new business models that have arisen that allow IP owners to profit from crowd- (or fan-) sourced content while more fully engaging their fans and expanding their audience of consumers. Each panelist will focus on a particular entertainment industry. Art Neill of New Media Rights will explore film and video production, including the impact of YouTube’s Partnership and Content ID/monetization programs, Gregory Boyd of Frankfurt Kurnit will focus on videogames and machinima, and Matt Bloomgarden of Alloy Entertainment will discuss publishing projects such as Amazon’s KindleWorld. The panel will also examine other online businesses that seek to leverage fan interest in generating new content in ways that offers benefits to both the IP owners and the fans. Finally, the panelists will discuss copyright and other legal issues that these new business models present as well as challenges that IP owners face from the growth of user-generated content featuring their properties without their involvement or consent.


Jay Kogan, DC Entertainment



Matthew Bloomgarden, Alloy Entertainment, A Warner Bros. Entertainment Company
S. Gregory Boyd, Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, PC
Art Neill, New Media Rights

For more information about the Copyright Society of the USA's Annual Meeting click here.

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FYI: US Copyright Office registration fees have increased

As of May 1, 2014, the US Copyright Office has updated its fee schedule resulting in increased fees across most of its services. The following are three of the most relevant changes:

  • Fees for online applications are now $55, up from $35.
  • Fees for paper applications are now $85, up from $65.
  • The price of determining if some works are in the public domain is now $200 an hour, up from $165 an hour.

However, not all online registration fees are going up. If you have a single work to register (like a book) that was not a work made for hire, the registration fee will remain $35! A complete list of the new fees can be found here.

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Support Levels & Benefits

As a non-profit program, New Media Rights relies on the support of individuals like you to provide free and reduced fee legal services to thousands of creators, entrepreneurs, and internet users. Your gift of $25 or more makes you a Supporter of New Media Rights. As a Supporter, you will receive our e-newsletter, and prioritized response time on all requests for legal services. Gifts of $250 or more will be publicly acknowledged on our Facebook and Twitter feeds, and these donors will receive high-profile recognition on our Top Supporters page.

You can make a donation now by clicking here!

How your donation can make a difference


Suggested donation amounts & examples of how your donation might help others

$25 - Can defray the cost of an initial response to a New Media Rights contact form

Benefits  Prioritized response time (3 business days) on any request for legal services. Receive our email newsletter (7-9 per year). Become a supporter now!
  $65 - Can defray the cost of an initial legal consultation with a creator, entrepreneur, or internet user
Benefits Ultra prioritized response time (1-2 business days) on any request for legal services. Receive our email newsletter (7-9 per year). Become a supporter now!
  $100 - Can defray the cost of providing critical basic legal services to a creator, entrepreneur, or internet user
Benefits Ultra prioritized response time (1-2 business days) on any request for legal services. Receive our email newsletter (7-9 per year). A personalized shout out on Twitter and/or Facebook to thank you for your donation. Become a supporter now!
  $250 - Can defray the cost of providing critical, complex legal services to a creator, entrepreneur, or internet user
Benefits Ultra prioritized response time (1-2 business days) on any request for legal services. Receive our email newsletter (7-9 per year).  A personalized shout out on Twitter and/or Facebook to thank you for your donation.  You also earn the right to receive high profile recognition on our Sustaining Donors page with a link to your website (gifts can also be anonymous). Become a Sustaining Donor now!
  $1000 - A tremendous gift that helps to support all aspects of our work, including direct legal services, educational guides and workshops to the public, as well as policy work protecting an open internet and independent creators.
Benefits Ultra prioritized response time (1-2 business days) on any request for legal services. Receive our email newsletter (7-9 per year). A personalized shout out on Twitter and/or Facebook to thank you for your donation.  You also earn the right to receive high profile recognition on our Sustaining Donors page as a "Major Donor" with a link to your website (gifts can also be anonymous).Become a Major Donor supporter now!
  $10000 - You are just awesome and we love you.
Benefits Ultra-prioritized response time (1-2 business days) on any request for legal services. Receive our email newsletter (7-9 per year).  A personalized shout out on Twitter and/or Facebook to thank you for your donation.  You also earn the right to receive high profile recognition on our Sustaining Donors page as a "Lifetime Supporter" with a link to your website (gifts can also be anonymous)We will also name an office holiday after you. You will get photos of the NMR staff celebrating your gracious patronage and we'll post those photos to our social media account to let the world know about the holiday. As a Lifetime Supporter, you also earn permanent, physical recognition in our office space, and a personal dinner with the New Media Rights Board and Executive Director within 100 miles of the New Media Rights headquarters.  Executive Director Art Neill will also make and deliver his Grandmother's famous pressure cooker flan within 100 miles of the NMR headquarters. Become a Lifetime Supporter now!

The accompanying benefits will be valid for one year from the date of your gift.  

Even though we entirely independently funded, our fiscal sponsor, California Western School of Law, would like acknowledge that all gifts of $1,000 or more qualify you for admission into California Western School of Law’s distinguished Juris Society at one of the following levels:

Juris Friends $1,000 to $2,499

Juris Fellows $2,500 to $4,999

Dean’s Associates $5,000 to $9,999

Dean’s Partners $10,000 and above

To learn more about California Western School of Law’s giving societies and their benefits, please visit http://www.cwsl.edu/give

Organizational Supporters - Your organization can support us by making a donation at two times any of the suggested donation amounts outlined above. Organizational donations above $500 will be published on our Top Supporters page.

Become a Supporter now by clicking here

Sustaining Donors

This is a list of individuals and organizations that have made significant donations to New Media Rights and were willing to share their name as Sustaining Donors and Major Donors.  We are extremely grateful for their support.  We are looking for more Sustaining Donors and Majors Donors to partner in providing legal services to folks who otherwise wouldn't have access. 

You can donate now by clicking here.

To be counted a Sustaining Member, the minimum yearly donation is $250 for an individual, or $500 for an organization. Major Donors are individuals or organizations that have given $1000 or more in the last year.  You can see all our donor levels on our Support Levels & Benefits page.

Major Donors

In memoriam Aaron Swartz

Sustaining Members

Michael Singh

Roberto Rico 

Art Docent ProgramLearning about art. Making art.


Ted Hahn


John McDonald - McDonald Productions

Cy Kuckenbaker - Cy's Film

Mary Clare Hunt - In Women We Trust

Kurt Arend

Michael Colin

Baris Efe


J. Salinas

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Can I copyright my paintings, sculptures or other visual art as a group to save money?

For visual artists the idea of individually copyrighting each work in your collection may seem arduous and expensive. The good news is there are several ways to register ‘groups’ of artistic work in copyright. One of the ways visual artists working with physical pieces of art can register multiple pieces of art on one application with one filing fee is by registering as a “collection of unpublished works.” Under this category, there is no restriction on how many pieces of art you can register in the collection.  However, the art must be related to each other in some way because you will need to describe the collection by a single title. There are three basic requirements in order to register your art as collection of unpublished works.

Basic requirements for registering a collection of unpublished art.

1- You will need to list out the individual pieces of art on the application, which is explained in ‘Step by Step instructions for registering online.’
2- The group of art will need a collection title. This will be the title the Copyright Office keeps in its records.
3- You need to be the creator for each piece of art you are registering.  You cannot add a piece of art someone else makes to the group.

Photo "London Artists Studio 2" licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license by Thor

Ok my artwork must be unpublished to be registered as a group, what does “unpublished” mean?
Unpublished means that you have not offered to sell or already sold the piece of art. You can still register published pieces of art but you cannot combine them into a group on one application. You will have to fill out a separate application and pay a separate application fee for each published work you register.

How does this effect the way I market my art before I register it?
You can only register multiple pieces of art under one application if they are unpublished. This means discussing the sale of a piece of art, showing a potential buyer your portfolio, or creating a website to display and sell your art are all ways you can “publish” your work.   Therefore, if your aim is to maximize your protection and minimize upfront costs of registering, you may want to register your art first as a group and then begin marketing. However, there are a few unique exceptions to when a work is considered published:

  • If only one piece of that particular piece of art exists, and you have not and do not plan on making copies of this art, you can sell it in a ‘traditional way’ through an art dealer, gallery or auction house. This will not be considered ‘published.’
  • If you publicly display your art it is not published.  However, if you offer to distribute copies of your art for someone else to distribute or display, like a retailer, it is published. 

These exceptions are mainly focused on sales of unique pieces of art. Provided you do not intend to make copies of your art, you can register your work even after it is sold or shown in a traditional gallery setting.

How long does my art need to remain “unpublished”?

Remember if you want to register a group of art on one application each one has to be unpublished. Therefore, you should not sell or display your art outside of a traditional gallery setting until you have completed your application and sent it in with the filing fee.  However, you do not have to wait until you receive the registration certificate to start selling or sharing your work outside of these settings. Your art will be protected by copyright law even before you get the certificate, but you will need the certificate if you want to file a copyright infringement lawsuit and seek certain damages and attorneys fees.  Remember that if your application and filing fee are submitted correctly you should get the date the copyright office received the application as your registration date.

That sounds great! But how do I register my work?

You can register online or mail in your application. If you register online it will take 3-6 months before it is accepted and the fee per application is $55. If you mail in your application it will take about 10 months and the fee per application is $85.  Since the price is less and the online application makes it easier to register a collection of unpublished works, we have described this process in detail below. However, you can still choose to fill out the paper application and mail it in.

Step by Step instructions for registering online:

  • GO to the Copyright Office online application AKA ‘eCO’: https://eco.copyright.gov/eService_enu/start.swe?SWECmd=Start&SWEHo=eco.copyright.gov
  • Register as a new member. Once you have registered, login.
  • Under ‘Copyright Registration’ (list on the left side of the page) select ‘Register a New Claim’
    • You will be asked 3 questions.
      • Q: ‘I am registering one work?'  A: NO- you are registering a group of unpublished works
      • Q: ‘The work being registered was created by one person.’ A: YES (assuming you are the only one making these pieces of art)
      • Q:‘Copyright in the work is solely owned by the person who created it’ A: YES (assuming you are the owner and creator)
  • You will then fill out the application which has 11 parts.  Below is a guide for how to fill in the application as a collection of unpublished titles.
  • Part 1- Type of work: select Work of the Visual Arts
  • Part 2- Titles: this is where you will list the collection title and each piece of art within the collection.
    • Step 1: register the title of the collection. This is the overall title that each individual piece of art will fit into.
      • Select ‘New’
      • Title Type: select Title of Work Being Registered
      • Title of this work: give the collection a title. The title should describe the collection but don’t be too specific.
    • Step 2: register each individual piece of art.
      •  Select ‘New’
      •  Title Type: select Contents Title
      • Title of this work: Give the individual piece of art a name or description (only name one piece of art at a time).
    •  Step 3: Repeat ‘Step 2’ for each individual piece of art that fits within the group title. You can register as many pieces of art as you want under one collection title, there is no limitation. BUT you must have all the pieces of art for the group created and ready to register at this time. You cannot add to this group after your application is submitted and you cannot register pieces of art you have not yet created.
  • Part 3- Publication/Completion: you will be asked if the work is published, answer ‘NO’ (assuming this is true).
    • Remember the only way to register multiple designs under one application and with one fee is if they are all unpublished. If you have published a piece of art as described above, by selling it, offering to sell it, or giving it to someone else to sell or display outside of a traditional gallery setting  for example, you will need to register it on a separate application.
  • Part 4- Authors: You are creating the art so you can select ‘Add me’. You will also be asked what type of work. You will choose visual art.
  • Part 5- Claimants: The author (creator) of the art is the original claimant. If you created the art and have not transferred any rights to the art you can select ‘Add Me’
  • Part 6- Limitation of Claim: Unless the designs you are registering contain part of a past registration or published material you can skip this section by selecting ‘continue.’ If you reuse copyrighted work in your art, you must list it here.
  • Part 7- Rights and permissions: select ‘Add Me’
  • Part 8- Correspondent: select ‘Add Me’
  • Part 9- Mail Certificate: select ‘Add Me’
  • Part 10- Special Handling: This section will probably not apply to you. Skip it by selecting ‘Continue.’
  • Part 11- Certification: follow the instructions on the page to agree and sign the application.
  • Check out: When you checkout the fee should be $55. You should see one ‘Title of Work Being Registered’ which is the collection title name. The individual titles you listed under ‘Contents Title’ will not be shown on the checkout page. And you're done!

The above instructions are assuming you are the only creator of these pieces of art. If this changes you will need to add the other authors and claimants to the application. If you have specific questions while you are filling out the application you can call the Copyright office: (877) 476.0778 (9am-5pm Eastern time).

If you have any questions about registering works of visual art or copyright issues related to your visual art, feel free to contact New Media Rights please feel free to fill in our contact form here.

** Special thanks to New Media Rights Legal Intern Kristine Stcynske for helping to create this Copyright FAQ**

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