Images Inside Books Protected By Copyright

Full Question: If an image is inside of a registered work, like a book, is the image also registered? Similarly, if the registered book required a renewal registration, is the image’s registration also renewed?

Answer: It depends. Assuming that the image is governed by the 1976 Copyright Act, and that it was owned by the claimant of the registered book at the time of registration, the image generally will be covered by the registration, unless it was previously published, previously registered, or in the public domain. If all of the exclusive rights in the image were not owned by the claimant of the book at the time of registration, the image must be registered separately. If there are multiple images that were not owned by the claimant of the book, each of those images must be registered separately unless an applicable group registration option exists, such as group registration of published photographs or group registration of contributions to periodicals.

If the image and/or book are governed by the 1909 Copyright Act, and a renewal registration is required, the answer becomes far less clear because of the many variables that come into play with 1909 Act works and renewals. Please see Compendium (Third) Chapter 2100 for a detailed discussion on works governed by the 1909 Copyright Act and renewal registrations. You can also send a question to one of our Examiners specializing in renewals registrations by contacting our Public Information Office at (202) 707-3000 or through the “Contact Us” form on the website: www.copyright.gov. Please specify that you have a specific question about a renewal registration. However, the Office cannot provide legal advice.

Answered by:

Rob Kasunic, Director of Registration Policy and Practices at the U.S. Copyright Office