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Copyright Law Explained

How To Register For a Copyright

Copyright registration is not a prerequisite to obtaining copyright protection. Copyright protection automatically subsists the moment the work is fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Thus, going through the copyright registration process to register a claim with the U.S. Copyright Office is not necessary to obtain protection. However, there are numerous benefits to registration and therefore it is highly recommended. Details on how to register for a copyright are listed below.

Copyright Registration Process

To register a copyrighted work with the U.S. Copyright Office one must submit a registration application. The application can be submitted electronically or in paper form. For most works it is more beneficial to use the online registration system, called the electronic Copyright Office (eCO), because the:

  • filing fee is lower than for paper filing;
  • processing time is faster;
  • status of the application can be tracked online;
  • payment can be secured by either credit or debit card, electronic check, or through a Copyright Office deposit account; and
  • applicants can upload certain categories of deposits directly into eCO as electronic files instead if mailing them to the Office.

The copyright application must contain three things:

1. Application Form

There are different application forms for different types of copyrighted works and for different types of registrations. Registration usually covers only one copyright work. However, for certain types of works a group registration is possible. All forms must be completed and signed when submitted to the Office.

2. Filing Fee

A non-refundable filing fee must be included with the application. The amount of the filing fee differs depending on several factors (e.g., online or paper filing, single registration or group filing). The fees generally range from $25 to $140, with most fees being below $100. A listing of the most up-to-date fees can be found here.

3. Deposit

A deposit is a copy of the work being registered and “deposited” with the Copyright Office. All deposit copies are retained by the Office or the Library of Congress and not returned to the Copyright Owner. The deposit requirements vary depending on the type of work being registered. Copyright owners can find more information about the type of deposit they will need to submit in one of the circulars published by the Copyright Office.

The information detailed above is the most current copyright registration process. To continue to stay up-to-date with the latest copyright registration protocols, and to learn more about copyright law in general, join the alliance today—it’s free.