Copyrighting Multi-Document Works

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  • My library had developed several multi-piece "kits" tailored to new parents, preschoolers, and kindergarteners. More kits are in the planning stages. It's my job to register library publications for copyright. I have done so over the years for single book lists which contain original annotations, but I have never attempted to register multi-piece works before. Can I register the kit as a whole, or must each piece be registered separately? We want to not only protect the original text, but the original design as well. If I can register the kit as a unit, do I use Form TX for copyrighting Literary Works? or Form VA to copyright the design? Or should the text and design be copyrighted separately?
  • I hope I'm not off-base but this seems like a question for the Copyright Office in Washington. Here's the address
  • I believe you can use Form TX to register a collective work, and that such registration will include illustrative matter, if what you mean by "design" can be covered by that term. I have used a single Form TX to register a journal that was being published by my former employer that included about seven articles by different authors and multiple photographs; does that sound analogous to your kits?

    MKardik's comment reflect my own experience that the staff of the Copyright Office was very helpful in ensuring that I had the form filled out correctly.

    Please forgive the impertinence of this reminder, but your second to last sentence causes me to note that you do not need registration in order to protect these works; they are protected as soon as they are fixed, assuming that they are original works of authorship. This applies to both text and design. Registration is important if you contemplate future litigation over these works, but protection itself does not depend on getting the details of the registration forms right.

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