Serials Registration

U.S. Copyright Office, Library of Congress

Circular 62



This circular provides background information about the registration of copyright claims in serials using Form SE, Short Form SE, and Form SE/Group. It supplements, but does not replace, the line-by-line instructions on the forms.

For information on group reqistraion of daily newspapers request Circular 62b and form G/DN.


For copyright purposes, serials are defined as works issued or intended to be issued in successive parts bearing numerical or chronological designations and intended to be continued indefinitely. The classification "serial" includes periodicals, newspapers, magazines, bulletins, newsletters, annuals, journals, proceedings of societies, and other similar works.


Serials should be registered on Form SE, using standard Form SE, Short Form SE, or Form SE/Group. (See section entitled How to Select Your Application.) You can obtain these forms and other forms and circulars by sending a specific request, identifying the number of forms you need, to:

   Publications Section, LM 455

   Copyright Office

   Library of Congress

   Washington, D.C. 20559-6000

or by calling the Forms Hotline (202)707-9100 and leaving a recorded message.


Standard Form SE is always appropriate for any serial. However, most typical serials fit the criteria for using the cost-efficient Form SE/Group or the streamlined, one-page Short Form SE, both of which are recommended.

A number of issues of the same serial may be grouped and registered on one application at a reduced fee, under specific conditions, using Form SE/Group. This is an efficient and cost- saving way to register serials, and the Copyright Office encourages remitters to take advantage of this option. See the section on Group Registration of Serials for an explanation of the conditions for participation in group registration.

If a serial does not meet all of the specific conditions required for group registration, such as those serials that are published daily or semi-annually, the applicant should consider using Short Form SE. This form also saves preparation time and expedites processing a claim once it is received in the Copyright Office. Most serials claims may be filed on Short Form SE. All of the following conditions must be met in order to use Short Form SE:

1. The claim must be in a collective work;

2. The work must be an essentially all new collective work or serial issue;

3. The author must be a citizen or domiciliary of the United States;

4. The work must be a work made for hire;

5. The author(s) and claimant(s) must be the same person(s) or organization(s); and

6. The work must be first published in the United States.

Use standard Form SE if any one or more of the conditions for using Short Form SE does not apply.


To register each issue, send the following three elements together in the same envelope or package to:

   Register of Copyrights

   Copyright Office

   Library of Congress

   Washington, D.C. 20559-6000

1. A properly completed and signed application standard Form SE or Short Form SE (use typewriter or black ink); on standard Form SE, be sure that the date on which the application is signed is the same as or later than the date the serial issue was published.

2. A nonrefundable filing fee of $20 (check, money order, or bank draft, not cash) payable to: Register of Copyrights.

3. Two copies of the serial issue to be registered. (Send only one copy of the serial issue if the issue is unpublished or if the issue was first published outside of the United States.)

Issues of serials that are grouped and registered on Form SE/Group have special conditions for registration, including different fee and deposit requirements. See the following section on Group Registration of Serials for details.

NOTE: A claim to copyright in a single issue does not give blanket protection for other issues published under the same serial title. Each serial issue is considered a separate work for copyright purposes and should be registered separately. For example, registration of "vol. 1, no. 1" of Country Doctor applies only to that issue, and not to "vol. 1, no. 2."

Please allow at least 120 days for processing of a claim. After that time, you should receive a certificate of registration or correspondence from the Copyright Office.

If you want to know when the Copyright Office receives your material, send the material by registered or certified mail and request a return receipt.

If you plan to register many successive claims to copyright, you may wish to open a deposit account in the Copyright Office from which the fee for each registration and other services may be paid. For further information about deposit accounts, request Circular 5.


Copyright Office regulations now permit group registration of certain serial publications. Issues of serials first published on or after January 7, 1991, at intervals of a week or longer within a 3-month period during the same calendar year can be grouped and registered with a single application and reduced fee.

The nonrefundable filing fee for group registration is $10 for each issue listed on Form/SE Group. An appropriate fee must be sent with each application or charged to an active deposit account in the Copyright Office. There is a minimum fee of $20 for Form/SE Group, which covers two issues; it is not possible to register only a single issue on this application. Note: Special Handling is not available for claims filed on Form SE/Group.

How to Determine Eligibility for Form SE/Group

All of the following conditions must be met in order to take advantage of group registration. If any one condition does not apply, registration, if made, must be made for each issue separately using either Form SE or Short Form SE.

1. The claim to copyright must be in the collective work; no other authorship statement is permitted on the application.

2. The works must be essentially all new collective works or issues.

3. Each issue must be a work made for hire.

4. The author(s) and claimant(s) must be the same person(s) or organization(s) for all of the issues. Transfer statements are not permitted on Form SE/Group.

5. The serial must be published at intervals of 1 week or longer.

6. All issues in the group must be published within a 3-month period. (A 3-month period includes, for example, issues published from April 15, 1992 through July 14, 1992 or from September 1, 1992 through November 30, 1992.)

7. Each issue must have been created no more than one year prior to the date of publication of that issue.

8. All issues in the group must have been published within the same calendar year.

9. At least two issues must be included on each group application.

Two Special Conditions for Participation in Group Registration

Prior to any submission for copyright group registration, the following conditions must be met:

1. Two complimentary subscriptions of the serial must first be entered for the Library of Congress, so that promptly after publication two copies of each issue are automatically sent to the Library. The mailing address for these subscription copies is:

   Library of Congress

   Group Periodicals Registration

   Washington, D.C. 20540

2. A letter must be sent to the Copyright Office General Counsel confirming that the two complimentary subscriptions have been entered. The letter must identify the publisher, the title(s), and the indicia (i.e., volume, number, and issue date on copies) that begin the complimentary subscription(s). Redirect URL the letter to:

   General Counsel

   Library of Congress

   Department 17

   Washington, D.C. 20540

To insure proper processing, only the address given in number 1 is to be used for the complimentary subscriptions and only the address given in number 2 is to be used for the letter of confirmation.

How to File for Group Registration

After the two special requirements (above) have been satisfied, complete Form SE/Group, following the instructions here and on the back of the application, and submit the following material in one package:

1. The completed application Form SE/Group;

2. One copy of each issue listed on the application;

3. A nonreturnable filing fee of $10 per issue; and

4. A covering letter confirming that a letter has been sent to the General Counsel. Mail this package to:

   Register of Copyrights

   Library of Congress

   Washington, D.C. 20559-6000

Note that this address is different from the separate addresses used for the complimentary subscriptions and the letter to the General Counsel. For group registrations to be properly processed, send the application, fee, and copies only to this address.

For More Information

For answers to questions about the procedure in general or about completing the application form, call the Copyright Office Information Section: (202) 707-3000 (TTY: (202) 707-6737) Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., excluding Federal holidays. Questions about the letter confirming the subscriptions should be directed to the Copyright Office General Counsel’s Office at (202) 707-8380. For questions about the complimentary subscriptions, call the Copyright Acquisitions Division at (202) 707-7125.


Copyright Begins With the Author at Creation

At the time an original work is created in fixed form, copyright is automatically secured. At that moment, all of the rights in that copyright belong to the author of the work. Those rights remain with the author unless the author specifically transfers them, in writing, to someone else. Ownership of the rights can change, but the author of the work remains the same regardless of who subsequently owns the rights.

Work Made for Hire

Ordinarily, the person who actually creates the work is considered the author. However, the copyright law provides that in the case of a "work made for hire," the employer is the "author" of the work, and is therefore the initial owner of copyright unless the parties have expressly agreed otherwise. A "work made for hire" is either:

   — "A work prepared by an employee within the scope of his or her employment," or

   — Under certain conditions as defined by the copyright law (section 101), a "specially ordered or commissioned work" where the parties have agreed in writing that the commissioned work shall be considered a "work made for hire." This category includes works commissioned for use as contributions to collective works.

   Collective Works

Most serials are collective works in which a number of contributions, constituting separate and independent works in themselves, are assembled into a collective whole. Two categories of authorship are inherent in the creation of collective works:   

   — Authorship of the collective work as a whole, and

   — Authorship of the individual contributions to the collective work.

Authorship of the collective work as a whole includes the elements of revising, editing, compiling, and similar authorship that went into putting the work into final form.

The author of a serial issue as a whole is sometimes an individual person. More typically, however, the author is the organization (corporation, society, club) that directed the preparation of the entire serial issue as a "work made for hire." In this case, the employer’s authorship includes not only the collective authorship (described above) but also any individual contributions that employees of the employer prepare while working within the scope of their employment.


The copyright claimant is the person, organization, or legal entity authorized to claim copyright in the serial issue. The claimant is the author or the person or organization to whom all rights have been transferred.

The claimant registering a serial may claim copyright not only in the collective-work authorship for which the claimant is responsible but also in any independently authored contributions in which all rights have been transferred to the claimant by the contributors.

If the serial issue includes any independently authored contributions in which all rights have not been transferred by the contributor to the claimant for the serial issue as a whole, those contributions are not included in the claim being registered, because the claimant in these contributions is different from the claimant in the entire serial issue.

A separately authored contribution can, however, be registered for copyright independently. To register such a contribution, the contributor should file a separate claim using Form TX or other appropriate application form.


   Name of Author_Space 2

The applicant must determine who is the author of the serial issue covered by the claim and whether the material produced by that author is a "work made for hire." Where the author is a corporation or other organization, the "work made for hire" question must be answered "yes." Therefore, in the case of the typical serial issue that is made for hire, the applicant should give at Space 2 the full legal name of the employer and check "yes" to show that the work was made for hire.

   Nature of Authorship_Space 2

To facilitate describing the material created by the author, Form SE provides a choice of checking a box marked "Collective Work" or completing a blank labelled "Other." Checking the box marked "Collective Work" indicates authorship of the collective work as a whole (that is, the editing and compiling of the issue as a whole) plus any individual made-for-hire contributions.

It is not necessary to describe the authorship in more specific terms if the "Collective Work" box is checked. However, examples of authorship descriptions that could be given instead of checking the "Collective Work" box and that could apply to both organization and individual authors include "text," "text and illustrations," "editorial revision, compilation and additional new material."

   Copyright Claimant and Transfer_Space 4 

Give the full legal name and address of the claimant for the serial issue as a whole.

When the same name or names appear as author and claimant at Spaces 2 and 4, there is no need to complete the "transfer" space. Conversely, whenever the name of the serial claimant at Space 4 is different from the name of the author at Space 2, a transfer statement is required at Space 4.

When a serial issue includes independently authored contributions in which all rights have been transferred in writing to the claimant of the entire serial issue, it is not necessary to include the names of the contributors at Space 2. Whether those contributors are listed or not, the copyright claim in the serial issue as a whole would extend to those contributions.

NOTE: If Space 2 of the application includes the names of those contributors who transferred their rights to the serial claimant, Space 4 must include a brief transfer statement explaining how the rights were transferred: for example, "by written agreement" or "by assignment."


For works first published on and after March 1,1989, use of the copyright notice is optional, though highly recommended. Works first published before March 1,1989, must bear a notice or risk loss of copyright protection. The Copyright Office takes no position and offers no advice regarding use of the notice on reprints distributed March 1,1989, or later of works first published with notice before March 1, 1989.

Use of the notice is recommended because it informs the public that the work is protected by copyright, identifies the copyright owner, and shows the year of first publication. Futhermore, in the event that a work is infringed, if the work carries a proper notice, the court will not allow a defendant to claim "innocent infringement"_that is, that he or she did not realize that the work is protected. (A successful innocent infringement claim may result in a reduction in damages that the copyright owner would otherwise receive.)

The notice for visually perceptible copies of a serial should contain the following three elements: (1) the copyright symbol (the letter C in a circle), the word "Copyright," or the abbreviation "Copr."; and (2) the year of first publication of the serial issue; and (3) the name of the owner of copyright in the work. Example: Copyright 1995 XYZ News Publishers, Inc. The three elements of the notice should appear together with or near the masthead or other page bearing the title and indicia at or near the front of the serial issue so as to "give reasonable notice of the claim to copyright." For more information about copyright notice, request Circular 3.


Whether or not copyright registration is sought, the Copyright Act requires that for all works published in the United States under copyright protection, two complete copies of the best edition of each issue must be sent to the Copyright Office for the Library of Congress. It is the responsibility of the owner of copyright or the owner of the exclusive right of publication to fulfill this mandatory deposit requirement within 3 months after the date of publication in the United States. Failure to make the deposit can result in fines and other penalties.

The mandatory deposit requirement also applies to works first published in this country through the distribution of copies. Copyright Office regulations, however, permit the deposit of one copy of a "foreign work," that is, a work first published abroad that is later distributed in the United States without a change in copyrightable content, if (a) registration for the work is made before the work is distributed in the United States, or (b) registration for the work is made after the work is distributed in the United States but before a demand for deposit is made by this Office. If registration is not made, or if it is made after a demand, then two copies must be deposited. Failure to make the deposit can lead to fines and other penalties.


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