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Everything You Need to Know About the GRAM Application

In Spring 2021, the U.S. Copyright Office of the Library of Congress created a new group registration option for musical works, sound recordings and certain other works contained on an album. This so called “Group Registration of Works on an Album of Music” (GRAM) option, allows for the registration of a group musical works or sound recordings that are distributed together, rather than individual registration of works contained in an album. Today we'll discuss everything you need to know with regard to the GRAM Application. Contact one of our Entertainment and Media Law attorneys if you want more information.

Prior to the GRAM option, each work (e.g., musical work, sound recordings, pictorial and graphic works, etc.) were required to be registered through the office individually.

Under the new system, applicants can register up to twenty musical works and twenty sound recordings provided the works were created by the same author or had at least one common author. The regulation also requires the claimant for each work in the group to be the same.

Under the regulation, a copyright claimant is either (1) the author of a work, or (2) a person or organization that has obtained ownership of all rights under the copyright initially belonging to the author.

The definition of “album” is not limited to albums in which copies are acquired and retained by the purchaser, such as downloads or physical copies, but a “single physical or electronic unit of distribution” regardless of whether the works are accessed via download, stream or other mechanism. The key consideration the office makes in its definition is whether there is some indication of the copyright owner’s intent to release the works together as a single collection.

To take advantage of this new option, applicants are required to submit their claims through the online copyright registration system.

The system provides for two separate types of applications. An applicant may register up to twenty musical works on an album using the “musical works from an album” option or an applicant can register up to twenty sound recordings – or any related literary, pictorial or graphic works – using the second “sound recordings from an album” option.

Claimants are required to specify the date and nation of publication for the album. However, the system allows for the registration of a musical work or sound recording that was previously published as an individual work only, provided the application includes the date of first publication for each of the works.

GRAM applications include a mandatory field for the title of the album, which will appear on the registration certificate and public record. This title will automatically be used to generate the group title, (e.g., “works published on the album [ALBUM TITLE]”). For applications that include other works, the system will automatically generate titles for those works based on the album title (e.g., “photograph(s) published on the album [ALBUM TITLE]”). However, the applicant can provide more specific titles for the works by following the instructions on the application.

Applications require a $65 fee. If the album is being published in both physical and digital form, applicants are required to submit two physical phonorecords, along with two copies of any related album material. If the album is published solely in digital form, the applicant may upload a digital phonorecord along with a digital copy of any related album material.

As part of the application, the applicant is required to certify via sworn statement that all works being registered meet the requirements of the group registration option and that all works were published on the same album.

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