The copyright office’s instructions on filling in the eCO
form are very good and available
online. This link also shows up in your home page once you create a login on
copyright.gov’s eCO site. Refer to that document, and the prompts in the form
itself, for the registration process; this document will attempt to answer
questions along the way that might be too cloaked in “legal-ese” for quick
The goal of this process is to register the yearbook as a
compilation work owned by the unincorporated association of editors. A
“compilation work” is a copyright registration that protects works brought
together into one new work; in the case of a yearbook, the registration
protects the book as an assembled work, while the individual contributors own
their photographs, articles, etc. An “unincorporated association” is a group of
people working together to accomplish a goal. In this case, the current editors
of the yearbook in any given year will be the “unincorporated association” that
holds the copyrights for all the yearbooks produced thereafter.
A few quick steps up front:
- Pick a name for the unincorporated association of yearbook
Something simple and memorable will be easiest. There are no points for
originality here — if your yearbook was named
The Annual, “The Annual Editors”
would be fine.
- Set up an e-mail address for the unincorporated association.
Big picture you might want lots of other things, like a bank account, but at
least start with a way people can talk to the organization. The Editor(s) in
Chief should have that password; the adviser probably shouldn’t. Each year,
the editors should pass access down to the next set of editors.
- Decide if you’re registering the book before publication or
If registering before publication, register the work as a literary work; you will need to upload a
copy of the yearbook electronically. (The maximum file size is actually set by
the speed of the connection you have, because you have to upload each file in
click here for details.) If registering after publication, register the work as a single serial issue; you will need to
mail two copies of the physical book to the copyright office.
- Before filling out the forms, contact the SPLC to ask about
laws specific to your state.
Each state has its own law covering unincorporated
associations. Give us a few days to look up the law in your state and make sure
this process is right for you.
- Have a credit or debit card you can use to pay for the
If all else fails, see if you’re allowed to use yearbook
funds to purchase a prepaid debit card, but in this day and age, presumably the
publication has some way of paying electronically.
In following the Copyright Office’s instructions, here’s
some additional information to know:
- If registering as a literary
, the series title is the name of the yearbook, and the title of the
is the theme of that particular
yearbook. For example, if the yearbook
The Annual, then the series
title is “The Annual” and the serial title is this year’s theme, “Enchantment
Under the Sea.”
- If registering as a single
, the title of the work is the yearbook name, the publication
frequency is “annually,” and the issue date is the year the yearbook is
- If registering after publication as a single serial issue, date of first publication is the date that the
book was actually delivered into the hands of someone other than a yearbook
- The organization name is the name of that unincorporated
association you picked earlier; the name that represents the editorial board.
- Under “authors,” don’t fill in the name of any staff
members! Names you put here are
of the work to the unincorporated association. The contract the
SPLC provides doesn’t do that—it only gives the association a
- For transfer statement, you want the option: By written
agreement(s) with individual contributors not named in the application/certificate.
- For material excluded, check “text,” “artwork,” and
“photographs.” The editors aren’t claiming to own these; they’re just licensing
them, so they should be excluded from the claim. For material included, check
- Under rights and permissions information, put the name of
the unincorporated association and the association’s e-mail address; use the
street address and phone number of the school’s yearbook office.
- For correspondent, list the current editor in chief’s
- Don’t get special handling. It’s expensive and if you
haven’t published the book or just published it recently, you probably aren’t
in a hurry yet.
- If registering as a single
, don’t forget to print out a mailing label.