March 19, 2020

Copyright Service Fees to Increase on Friday Irrespective of COVID-19

4 min

The Copyright Office has confirmed that despite various upheavals and changes caused by COVID-19, starting Friday, March 20, 2020, there will be an increase in filing fees for most copyright services. The increase was announced last month in a Final Rule, and on March 18, 2020 during a Copyright Office webinar, the Office explained that because the Final Rule was posted on February 19, 2020, the fees will still take effect at the end of the week, despite the current developments surrounding COVID-19.

The fee increase includes the most common services, such as registration, recordation, record retrieval, and other miscellaneous services. The increase is a result of a fee study that the Copyright Office began over two years ago, with the stated intent to adjust its fee schedule in order "to recover a significant portion of the costs to the Office for services that benefit both copyright owners and the public."

Below are examples of the changes to many of the most commonly used services. For a more detailed summary of all of the fee changes, see the Copyright Office's new Schedule of Fees here.

The most basic online registration – the Standard Application – will jump from $55 to $65 per filing. In an effort to encourage electronic submissions, the paper filing for the Standard Application will increase from $85 to $125. As a reminder, a Standard Application is recommended for most works, including literary works, visual artworks, photographs, motion pictures, and sound recordings.

To save on filing costs, the above-mentioned works can also be registered as a group in a single application, provided they are unpublished and the same authorship is claimed in each work. For example, if the same author created ten unpublished poems, all can be registered under one Group of Unpublished Works application for one fee rather than filing a separate Standard Application for each work. This group application cannot be used, however, for two photographs and four videos. The Group of Unpublished Works application fee is currently $55 but will increase to $85, still making it cost effective to group unpublished works in a single application. To be clear, the filing for a Group Registration of Published or Unpublished photographs will remain at $55.

One significant fee increase is that for a registration of updates/revisions to a database that predominantly consists of non-photographic works. While the current filing fee is $85, the new fee will jump significantly to $500 per application. The Copyright Office states that this increase is proportionate to the amount of work that its Examiners spend reviewing such complex filings and will allow for a better cost recovery.

While most fees are increasing or remaining the same, the Supplementary Registration service fee will be decreasing because of the Office's stated increased efficiency in this service. To encourage applicants to maintain updated and accurate public records, the Copyright Office will decrease the Supplementary Registration fee from $130 to $100. Supplementary Registrations are used to correct or amplify a copyright claim. For example, you can file this application if you need to correct or update a name or address or add a co-claimant in the work. Alternatively, you can request removal of personally identifiable information (PII) from the registration records. This filing fee has also decreased from $130 to $100.

New Services. With new services come new fees. The Copyright Office will now offer full-term (75 years) retention of electronic copyright deposits, rather than just the physical deposits, for a $220 fee. The Copyright Office is also set to launch an integrated electronic system for recordation of a document, previously only available with a paper filing. This new system will require a $95 recordation fee. The recordation paper filing fee will increase from $105 to $125. Some other new fees include voluntary cancellation of registration, litigation statement, and matching unidentified deposits to deposit ticket claim. Be sure to review the Final Rule for more information on these services.

Other Updates. The Copyright Office is also in the process of updating its guidelines to reflect the hardcopy deposit material requirements for published works. As of last summer, the Copyright Office requires only one deposit copy, as opposed to two, of the published work being registered, mimicking the deposit material requirement for an unpublished work.

We continue to monitor the Copyright Office Rulemakings in their efforts to create an efficient and modern registration process. Stay tuned for further updates and, in the meantime, if you have questions, please reach out to the authors or anyone else on the Venable Copyright Team.