A few years back I went through a blogging phase. Around the same time I had fallen deeply in love with thesauruses and chose to fill my blog with an abundance of overdramatic and ill-fitting words like “hullabaloo.” One thing was certain, my blog was never the cause of any kind of hullabaloo. I’m fairly certain my parents were the only ones to ever lay eyes on it, and I’m not even sure of that.
I write to you today not to bore you with the mortifying details of my short-lived blogging hobby, but rather to inform other, far better and more successful bloggers and online writers of an exciting and relatively new development in the world of copyright.
Several months ago, the US Copyright Office introduced a new group registration option for “short online literary works.” This option is appropriately called the “Group Registration of Short Online Literary Works” or “GRTX” for short. A short online literary work is one that contains between 50 and 17,500 words and includes items like blog posts, social media posts, poems, articles, essays, etc. These works must be initially published as a part of a website or other online platform, they cannot be works that originated as printed publications.
So what’s the big deal? Well, the GRTX allows authors of these works to register up to 50 posts or pieces in a single application for just one fee. This is great news for established and aspiring online writers. Before the GRTX, authors generally had to file separate applications with separate fees for each individual online post. The burden is much lower now in regards to time, effort, and money. I call that a win for online writers!
A notable downside to the GRTX is that it only protects text. So for all of the social media influencers out there who dazzle us with all sorts of media, you must register your photographs and other media separately. Sorry guys!
Here are a few other notable limitations:
- The author(s) must be the same for all of the works included in the application;
- All of the works must have been published within three consecutive calendar months; and
- The works cannot be works that were made for hire.
Some of you may be wondering why this matters. Well, if blogging or otherwise posting online is a substantial part of your life or your career, you likely want to protect your hard work from being co-opted by others for their own gain, right? I know I would have wanted to, if my blog had been even remotely successful. Copyrighting your work is essential to protecting its authenticity and your business.
One of the most significant benefits of a copyright registration is that it allows you to file an infringement lawsuit if someone uses your work unlawfully. Without a registration you cannot bring such a suit. Registering your work also allows you to collect attorney’s fees and statutory damages for infringement that occurred after the effective date of your registration and more immediately creates a public record that gives the world notice of your ownership. There’s really no excuse to not copyright your works now. It’s easier than ever before – you can register up to 50 works with one short form and a mere $65 application fee. Before the GRTX, copyrighting the same 50 works would have likely cost upward of $3,000.
So to all of you online writers out there, take advantage of this new registration option and give your work the protection it deserves.