June 24, 2009

Copyright Office: Rate Increases and Delays

3 min

The Copyright Office has announced a new fee schedule, effective August 1, 2009.  There are now three methods to file your copyright registrations.  Each one will have a different fee.  You should go onto the copyright office website and register.

  • Electronic filing fee has been increased to $35
  • Filing a Form CO has been increased to $50
  • Filing the traditional paper forms has been increased to $65

The Form CO is filled out online and prints with 2-D barcodes and then the deposit materials are sent to the Copyright Office. The traditional paper forms do not have barcodes. 

A number of other fees have also gone up, for example:

  • Registration of a Claim for a Group Contribution to Periodicals has been increased to $65
  • Registration for a group of published photographs has been increased to  $65 
  • Supplemental registration to amend a completed registration has been increased to  $100 
  • Pre-registration (for those limited class of works that are available for pre-registration) has been increased to $115 
  • Recording a licensing agreement has been increased to $140 
  • The time for Search Reports has been increased to  $165 per hour, with a two hour minimum 

The expedited handling fee will go up to $760, that would be in addition to the basic $35 through $65 fee (i.e. $795 - $810 - $825).  This special handling fee is often called for when one wants to file suit and they do not have a registration in hand, as a registration is often a prerequisite to filing suit. 

These higher fees and an increase in back logs are all the more reason to register your works ahead of time.  You can get a complete list of fees by going to the Copyright Office website at www.copyright.gov. Go to the “Forms and Circulars” section and download the circular for “Copyright Office Fees.” 

The new electronic filing system, which was supposed to decrease the backlog, seems to have backfired.  The time for processing an application has tripled, from up to six months to up to 18 months.  According to reports, the delays are expected to get worse in the coming months.  It’s important to remember, however, that COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION IS EFFECTIVE THE DAY THAT THE COPYRIGHT OFFICE RECEIVES THE APPLICATION, NOT WHEN YOU FINALLY GET BACK YOUR REGISTRATION. 

The benefits of registration are very important and, for the nominal price – even with the increases – should be automatic for anyone who in any way cares about protecting their copyrights.  However, without a registration I would say 80% of copyright infringement claims that are a “slam dunk” are not economically viable to pursue.  Spending $50 can earn you tens upon thousands of dollars if your works are infringed upon.  Click here to link to an article I wrote on the benefits of registration.  It is geared to registering works of visual arts but its theme applies to all types of material.

As mentioned above, the only reason one needs to worry about the timing of obtaining a registration is that, in certain jurisdictions, you need the final registration before you can file suit.  Other jurisdictions allow you to file suit if you have simply filed an application with the copyright office.  Check with us as we have a complete breakdown of application versus registration jurisdiction.  It would also behoove anyone filing a registration to send it in by overnight mail to the Copyright Office so you have a record of when it was received, or file it through our office with our messenger service, where we can obtain a receipt from the Copyright Office.

If you need help with your registration, obviously, we would be happy to assist you in filing your registrations or training you to do it so that, in the future, you can do it in-house.