How Long Does It Take To Register With U.S. Copyright Office? - Drishti Law

There is no fixed timeline for copyright registration. The process may take several months or it can be completed within 3 months. In this blog, we will discuss the process of acquiring copyright protection and the timeframe required for the whole process to reach a conclusion.

Copyright Basics

If you have developed a unique creation, then its protection should be your immediate priority. Under intellectual property law, copyright grants original creations a legal safeguard against infringement and theft. A cardinal rule of copyright law is that the protection is automatic, i.e. as soon as a work is created, the creator is automatically considered as the rights holder for that work. However, registering the work with the U.S. Copyright Office is comparatively rewarding as you acquire fool-proof protection from the law, including benefits like statutory damages and even the attorneys’ fee.

Benefits of Copyright Registration

Recovery of losses faced as a result of infringement is very important for creators and is only granted if the work is registered under the Copyright Act. Creators can request monetary compensation as per the statutory rules. The statutory provisions grant successful plaintiffs a chance to recover, damages, profits, and automatic damages starting from as little as $200 and going up to $150,000 for every infringed content (separately). The range of compensation depends on the level of infringement, the extent of the resulting loss to the original creator, knowledge of the infringer, and many other factors. Since it’s not always possible to calculate the actual range of damages, therefore, it is advisable to opt for statutory damages.

How To Register a Work with the U.S. Copyright Office?

The registration process is not as complex as the trademark registration process so the creators can choose to fill out the application form by themselves or they can seek the assistance of a copyright attorney. Furthermore, after registering one or two works, the process becomes considerably easier and faster to complete for future creations.

To register the copyrighted works, the applicants have to submit the following:

  • the application form
  • the filing fee (which is non-refundable)
  • a copy of the original work created

Applicants have the option of registering either through the paper application or the online Copyright Office’s portal. The online registration process is simple and swift therefore the said option is often recommended by the attorneys as compared to the traditional route of paper application. The process to register online is simple, and you can do so by following these steps:

  1. Creating an eCO Account: This refers to the initial sign-up on the Copyright Office’s online site and is similar to the ordinary sign-ups on other websites.
  2. Registering the Claim: After creating an account, you need to head to the “Copyright Registration” section present on the main page of your account. From there, click on the “Register a New Claim” link to register your work. You will be asked three questions asking if you are applying for a single piece of work if the authorship of the work belongs to you, and if the work only contains the author’s content. If not, then you will have to opt for the “Standard Application” route.
  3. Type of Work: If the answers to the abovementioned question are a ‘yes’, you will receive a “Start Registration” button and thereafter, you will have to choose from the given list of categories. The categories include motion picture/AV work, performing arts, sound recording, literary work, and single serial issues.
  4. Title: The fourth step requires you to enter the title of your work.
  5. Publication Status: After inserting the title, the site requires you to input the publication status of the work, i.e. whether it has been published or not. For unpublished works, the site is required to insert its expected year of completion.
  6. Author’s Details: The next step is to enter your details, which include your name, birth date, and citizenship status.
  7. Claiming the Work: If you have the sole authorship of the work, then click on the “Add Me” button. However, if the copyright is for someone else, then click on “New” to add information about that person.
  8. Filing Limitations in the Claim: This section is only relevant for such works which contain the existing published work in addition to the author’s work.
  9. Rights and Permissions for the Work: In the next section, you will be asked to define your rights for the work and any permissions regarding publishing, distributing, or reproducing the work. You can leave it blank if you don’t want to define them.
  10. Ownership confirmation and Certification: Confirm your authorship and enter the details of the person certifying the work on your behalf.
  11. Paying the Application Fee and Submitting: After confirming your ownership of the work, the last step is to pay the stipulated filing fee. The standard application charges are $85, and $65 if it is a single piece of work not available for “made for hire”. However, you will be required to deposit an additional $800 if you have requested for “special handling” service. After submitting the fee, your work is ready to be submitted to the Copyright Office.

Waiting Time

As stated above, the Copyright Office usually takes a minimum of 3 months to approve your application. However, keep in view that a timeline of 6 to 8 months is within the realistic range, and this can even extend to a year also if the office raises any questions pertaining to your application or there are errors in your submission.

Lacking or errors in the application can not only cost your time but also your budget. The process, although simple, is lengthy so there are chances to make mistakes or leave out essential details while filling out the application form. The best way to go about this is to hire expert services. You can schedule a free discovery call with Drishti Law and we’ll be happy to answer all your questions related to copyright and its registration. After this call, you will be able to decide if you want to pursue this matter on your own or if you want to seek professional help. Our principal attorney is considerably experienced in the field of copyright and he can apply for your copyright claim as well as enforce your rights through legal notices and lawsuits.