Copyright gives authors of "original works of authorship" a form of protection from others who might copy, distribute or otherwise claim the work as their own. Literary works, dramatic works, musical and other artistic works as well as certain other forms of intellectual works are covered under the laws of the United States (title 17, U. S. Code). What many people do not realize is that the protection is applied to both published and unpublished works. Under Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act, owners of a copyright are given a specific bundle of rights.
Registering a Copyright
Submit the completed application form, along with a copy of the work and a nonrefundable filing fee when registering a basic claim in an original work of authorship. Registration can be done online through the Electronic Copyright Office (eCO) for a $35 fee, or you can mail your registration for $50. If registering using Form CO, you will need to send a nonreturnable copy or copies of the work to be registered. The Copyright Office estimates that the average processing time for e-Filing is three months, while the average processing time for copyrights applied for using the Form CO, with paper forms, is 11 months.
Other Copyright Fees
Effective August 1, 2009, additional Copyright Office fees include $65 for a filing using Forms PA (performing arts), SR (sound recording), TX (literary), VA (visual arts) or SE (single serials), or a group of contributions to periodicals using Form GR/CP (groups of performing arts works published as contributions to periodicals), or a database update with a paper filing. A group of published photographs, using Form GR/PPh/CON (register up to 750 photographs), as a paper filing, is also $65. A renewal claim, with Form RE (renewal registration), without an addendum, as a paper filing, is $115. Filing the same form with an addendum to Form RE, as a paper filing, is $220.
A group of serial issues, Form SE/Group, per issue, with a minimum of two issues, as a paper filing is $25. A group of daily newspapers or newsletters on Form G⁄DN, paper filing, is $80, and a restored copyright, Form GATT, as a paper filing, is $65. A supplementary registration to amend a completed registration, Form CA, as a paper filing, is $100. Registration of a claim in a vessel hull on Form D⁄VH, as a paper filing, is $220. Form DC, which is a correction or amplification to a vessel hull design, is $100.
Payment options for copyright fees include a copyright office deposit account for those who file for copyrights often, ACH transfer via Pay.gov, or with a credit/debit card. Pay.gov is a secure, web-based application operated by the U.S. Treasury Department. The site allows you to make online payments to a variety of government agencies via debit from a checking or savings account or by credit card. A user account with Pay.gov. is not necessary if you are paying with a credit/debit card or though an ACH transfer. At the eCO site, you will be forwarded directly to the payment screen at Pay.gov. After completing your payment at Pay.gov, you will be redirected back to eCO to complete your registration. A payment confirmation email will be sent from Pay.gov following a successful transaction.