Should I Register My Copyright?

August 10, 2022

Worried about protecting your work from copycats? Copyright is a type of intellectual property. Copyright protects an original work of authorship that exists in a tangible form (i.e., paper, film, canvas, digital format, etc.). Copyright exists as soon as the original work is fixed in a tangible form and belongs to the author who created the work. For additional protection, a copyright should be registered with U.S. Copyright Office, but copyright registration is voluntary.

Why Should You Register Your Copyright? 

  • Registering your work makes your copyright public record.

  • Registering your work provides you with a certificate of registration from the U.S. Copyright Office.

  • You cannot file a lawsuit to enforce the rights of your copyright if you have not registered your copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office.

If you have created something original on behalf of your business that is in a tangible form on paper, film, database, etc., and you are concerned about potential copycats, then copyright registration is likely the next step to protect this intellectual property.

What types of Works Can Be Registered with the U.S. Copyright Office?

  • Literary Works (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, articles, periodicals)

  • Performing Arts (music lyrics, sound recordings, scripts, stage plays)

  • Visual Arts (artwork, illustrations, jewelry, fabric, architecture)

  • Digital Content (computer programs, databases, blogs, websites)

  • Motion Pictures (movies, tv shows, video games, animation, videos)

  • Photographs (news photos, selfies, wedding photos, family photos)

What Are the Fees for Copyright Registration?

If you file an electronic application for copyright registration, standard fees for one work range from $45 to $65. The U.S. Copyright Office prefers electronic application submission as electronic registration allows for faster processing, easier status tracking, and online payment.

Paper applications for registration may be completed and mailed to the Copyright Office. For certain types of works, the paper application form is required. The basic registration fee for the paper form is $125.

For group registrations, fees vary depending on the type of work from $35 to $500.

Additional fees may apply to record documents pertaining to a copyright. Depending on the information or documents to be recorded, this fee ranges from $60 to $125.

If you need to correct or supplement a pending application, you may be subject to additional fees required by the U.S. Copyright Office.

The standard fee for preregistration is $200. In limited circumstances, works may be eligible for “preregistration". This option is only available for certain classes of works that the U.S. Copyright Office has found historically to be more susceptible to pre-release infringement, such as motion pictures. Preregistration does not replace registration but allows the copyright owner if needed to sue for infringement when the work is still in progress for commercial release. More information on preregistration is available here: https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-prereg.html#what_is.

How Long Does It Take for the Copyright Office to Process a Registration Application?

Processing times vary depending on if all the required information was initially submitted the application, if follow up communication is necessary, and if the application was submitted electronically or by mail. The U.S. Copyright Office reports the average processing time for all registrations is 3.6 months. When registration applications are done properly with a digital deposit of the work uploaded and do not require additional correspondence, the average processing time is only 1.1 months. When an online applicant mails in a physical deposit of the work, the processing time jumps to 10.8 months to 13.1 months on average. For paper form applications submitted by mail, processing time ranges from an average of 8.3 months (no correspondence required) to an average of 11.4 months (additional correspondence required). For more info. on processing times, visit https://www.copyright.gov/registration/docs/processing-times-faqs.pdf.

The best way to speed up the processing time is to submit your registration application electronically and to ensure your application is completed and submitted properly. Issues with your application, deposit, or filing fee increases the processing time because it requires the Copyright Office to correspond with you to discuss and resolve the issues.

 

What If the U.S. Copyright Office Refuses to Register Your Copyright?

If the U.S. Copyright Office denies your registration application, you will be notified of its refusal in writing. If you disagree with that determination, you can request reconsideration within three months of the date on the written refusal. For a first-time request for reconsideration, the U.S. Copyright Office charges $350 per claim. If registration is again denied, the U.S. Copyright Office charges a $750 fee for a second request for reconsideration. The U.S. Copyright Office’s decision on a second request for reconsideration constitutes final agency action.

For more information on copyright registration, contact our team at info@gayjoneslaw.com.