Opinion | Enforcing our rights to our web content shouldn’t be this hard

Journalists and other creators of web content file comments in response to new rules proposed by U.S. Copyright Office for copyright registration


On Tuesday, Feb. 20, the National Writers Union (NWU) was joined by the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) and the National Association of Science Writers (NASW) in comments filed with the U.S. Copyright Office on a proposed rule for “Group Registration of Updates to a News Website.”

In its current rulemaking, the Copyright Office — after consulting news publishers but not journalists — is proposing a rule that would allow employers and publishers to register copyright in news websites that are created by their employees or contractors as “works made for hire,” but would prohibit journalists  and other content creators from registering our own websites or freelance work. It’s hard to imagine a rule more categorically biased in favor of publishers over content creators.

Most web content creators, including NWU members, have never registered any of our copyrights. If we try to do so, we quickly realize that, as applied to typical web content, the procedures for copyright registration are so cumbersome and the registration fees are so high that it isn’t worth our time or money.

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