ASMP Seeking Examples of Problems Distinguishing USCO “Published” and “Unpublished” Categories

by | Feb 22, 2018 | Advocacy, Copyright Reform, Small Claims Report


As I have worked on U.S. Copyright modernization issues over the past several years, I have repeatedly heard from members about the problems of distinguishing “published vs. unpublished” as a registration matter when making a registration.

Our coalition of visual groups representing visual creators is seeking to address this issue head-on with the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO) this year as we work for other things like the passage of HR 3945, the CASE Act of 2018, enabling the creation of a small claims tribunal within the USCO.

To that end, I would like to receive examples from members of specific instances where you have been confused or thwarted in your attempt to register because you were uncertain about the “published vs. unpublished” distinction and which applied to your work. As an example, if I registered a group of images from my website that could be viewed by the public without the need to use a log in to obtain viewing access, are they published or unpublished? Or are images posted to Instagram, published or unpublished?

I want to be able to share your examples with my colleagues as we assemble them to present to the Copyright Office as a reason why this provision needs to be reconsidered. By getting specific examples of registration instances when you have wanted that clarity but have been unable to discern it, either by reading the Copyright Office Compendium, following instructions on the registration forms, or talking with someone in the Copyright Office, you can help us gather useful evidence about this process.

I am looking for examples to be submitted by 12 noon on Wednesday, March 7, 2018. You can send them to me directly at or post them in the Advocacy Forum. While March 7th is the initial deadline for sharing with the group, I am willing to continue to take in feedback after that date.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Thomas R. Kennedy
ASMP Executive Director