Copyright Registration

Copyright protects original works of authorship. Your work is under copyright protection from the moment it is created and fixed into a tangible form. Copyright registration is beneficial because the facts of your copyright become a public record, registration allows you to access the federal courts for copyright infringement, and a registrant becomes eligible for statutory damages and attorney fees. Moreover, if your registration occurs within five years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.

Publication

Publication is no longer necessary to receive copyright protection. Publication is defined as the distribution of copies of work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental or lending or the offering to distribute copies to a group of people for purposes of further distribution, public performance, or public display. Works that are published in the U.S. are subject to mandatory deposit with the Library of Congress.

The Deposit requirements vary in particular situations. A few of the general rules include: (1) if the work is unpublished, one copy is required for deposit; (2) if the work was first published outside the U.S., one copy of the work is required as first published; and if the subject work was first published in the U.S. two complete copies of the best edition are required for deposit. As mentioned, special deposit requirements exist for certain works, including but not limited to motion pictures, phonorecords (for example, cassette tapes, CDs, LPs, etc.), computer programs, work in CD-ROM format, and oversized materials.

Effective Date Of Registration

The U.S. Copyright Office assigns an effective date of registration and this date is significant because it will impact whether a copyright claimant can access the federal courts and whether certain remedies such as statutory damages and attorney's fees will be available. The Copyright Office must have acted on your copyright application before you can file a lawsuit for infringement. However, if a published work is infringed prior to the effective date, the aforementioned remedies may still be available if the effective date of registration is within three months of the publication date.

Notification

We highly recommend using a copyright notification on your work. The Notice should contain all the following three elements:

  1. The symbol ©, or the word “Copyright,” or the abbreviation “Copr.”;

  2. The year of first publication of the work. In the case of compilations or derivative works incorporating previously published material, the year date of first publication of the compilation or derivative work is sufficient; and

  3. The name of the owner of copyright in the work, or an abbreviation by which the name can be recognized, or a generally known alternative designation of the owner. Here is an Example: © 2011 John Doe.

Fees For Registration

An application for a copyright registration contains three critical elements, one of which is the fee. The other two are the completed application and deposit of the work. If you file the application online with the U.S. Copyright Office, the standard application fee is $55.00. The second online fee is $35.00 and this is appropriate for those filing an application with a single author, who is also the claimant and the work is not made for hire. See our page entitled Copyright Basics And Works Made for Hire for detailed information on works for hire and the implications for copyright purposes.

Online registration is the fastest processing time for issuance of a copyright registration. One may register online even if you are required to submit a hard copy deposit. The fee for submitting your application on paper via postal mail is $85.00. The Copyright Office also charges a fee is you need a search conducted by a staff member of the copyright registrations, transfers, renewals or other documents relating to copyright status of a subject work. Kindly contact our office, if you require assistance with a copyright registration, we would be happy to provide you with a courtesy consultation.