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Omphaloskepsis Blog

Where did those copyright registrations go?

Sep 28, 2013

The ability to laugh at ourselves is very important #AccidentPaintings Posting 3 of 4 intended posts on copyrights for artists (here, here and here) does not an expert make. That became obvious yesterday when I finally stopped procrastinating and dove down the rabbit hole of “what ever happened to?” my outstanding copyright registration applications. Three had been approved when I applied in March of 2012. The other EIGHT were still outstanding. And I had been avoiding addressing this for 18 months like I avoid the dentist.


I looked up my account. It turns out, by the way, that you need to change your account password every year on the government copyright website. Check.


Yup. Eight of them still active.


Phone number? Got it. Time of day, still early on the east coast. Ring ring. Ring ring. Yes, I understand. With that many outstanding you have to write a (goddamn) letter. Resist. Resist. Resist. Write the appropriate letter. Tick tock tick tock. Two days later-phone call. Wilbur. A pocket full of wonderfulness!


We go over them one-by-one. No, I did not know I couldn’t select “installation” as a category. However, that may be changing in the near future.


Another big take-away: When registering a series, all in the application had to be published at the same time the first time. It’s not necessary to list multiple sources of publication, that just confuses things, just list the first relevant one.

 TurrellInstall.jpgTurrell Installation at Albright-Knox

No, I did not know that text painted on a wall is not registerable. Painted text on a canvas does not count as a copyrightable painting either. In my case it was because the text was not unique, meaning the letter formations themselves. What I could and did register was the text itself, the writing, but the installation of the text, no, not that, see above where I learn…installation is not currently something that can be registered. (But keep an eye on the rules, that could be a-changin’)


  1. Simplify, simplify. That’s my take away.
  2. And no text as art if I didn’t create the font.
  3. And no installation art…yet.
  4. And just one master publication date will do.

Got it.

Tags: Copyright
Category: Art Business
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