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Copyright Office Proposes New Fee Model

Fee Study

Office proposes new fee schedule

Today, the Copyright Office announces a new proposed fee schedule. The Office charges fees for a variety of public services, such as filing applications for registration, recording documents, and researching and copying records. Every three to five years, we review the costs of services and assess new fees. Typically, the Office does not charge the full cost of its services to the public.

Instead, the cost of running the Office comes 60 percent through fees and the rest from congressional appropriations. Therefore, the fee actually charged to the public for a specific service is often much less than the cost to the Copyright Office. The U.S. government makes up the difference in order to support the copyright system.

The Copyright Office realizes that fees are a critical aspect of creators’ budgets and that even a small cost increase can have significant effects on the everyday lives of the creators the Office supports. The Office takes very seriously its legal mandate to assess fees based on reasonable costs (including accounting for inflation) and to be sure they are “fair and equitable and give due consideration to the objectives of the copyright system.”

When assessing fees, the Office must look at the benefits of the copyright system to copyright owners, users, and the public at large. Because many services are voluntary, the Office also carefully weighs how fee increases will impact the number of people who register works or record documents. If the Office sets fees too high, participation in the copyright system will drop significantly to the detriment of the public interest.

To help develop its new fee schedule, the Office hired consultants Booz Allen Hamilton to thoroughly assess the actual cost of Office services, including looking at current and future costs. The consultant also analyzed something called elasticity—the percentage of participation the Office will lose depending on how much fees are increased. The consultant found that 85 percent of the Office’s fees are elastic, meaning that changes to fees will impact the demand for many Office services—and more significant changes such as much higher fees will decrease the use of Office services.

After considering this analysis, as well as critical policy considerations, the Office is recommending certain fee increases to account for the increased costs of providing services. Also, the Office is undertaking a comprehensive effort to modernize its processes and systems. This will result in a more efficient Office, but modernization is expensive. Fees have been adjusted to partially account for modernization costs, and the Office is studying and implementing new ways to more effectively spend its resources and streamline processes to curb unnecessary costs.

The Office struck a balance between ensuring that services are accessible and priced to achieve maximum usage while still recovering enough of the Office’s costs. For example, the Office proposes raising fees for its standard application from $55 to $75. While this is an increase of a little over 36 percent, it is still does not account for the actual full cost of this service to the Office, which is $90. Similarly, the Office proposes raising the fee for filing a paper supplementary registration from $130 to $150 (a change of 15 percent), but the actual cost of that service is $413. According to the analysis, higher fees will decrease overall fee processing volumes by approximately 14 percent, but that decrease will be offset by a more appropriate (but still not full) level of cost recovery. In total, the Office estimates that the proposed fees will generate roughly $41 million per year.

Now that the Copyright Office has published the proposed fees, we invite your comments. The commenting period will be open until July 23. Whether you agree with the Office’s proposal, or you have a suggested change, your input helps the Office make a fully informed decision. The Office will review and consider public comments and issue a final rule later this year. The new fee schedule will go into effect 120 days after publication of the final rule, unless Congress passes a law stating that it does not approve the fee schedule.

The Copyright Office is working towards modernizing its processes and becoming more accessible to the public it serves. This new fee schedule will allow the Office to achieve these goals and better promote creativity and innovation by protecting the rights of creators.

20 Comments

  1. Eric Bowles
    May 24, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    The proposed increase combined with recent changes to the number of photos per registration will mean a 300% increase in my annual registration costs. This makes a big problem much worse.

    A 36% increase in the fee for registration is on top of a huge increase related to number of images that may be registered in one registration. For me as an event photographer working completely on spec, that’s a huge increase.

    At a typical event I have more than 750 images that are posted for attendees to review and order prints. This means I already faced a charge of $110 for a single event, and you are proposing to increase that cost to $75 per batch or in my case – $150 for an event. This is an enormous burden and is associated with the type of photography that most often involves copyright violation.

    In the past, I would submit copyright registrations on a quarterly basis. Some time periods involved more event work than others, but I typically would register 5-6,000 images per year with total fees of $220. The proposed fee schedule and limit on the number of images registered at one time means my expected cost will be $900 per year – an increase of 300%.

    As a small business, you are going to cause me to reassess whether I can provide event photography at all. Charity work generates minimal income but still requires copyright protection. Now the cost of charity work will be an incremental cost of hundreds of dollars per year.

    The proposed fee increase might be okay with a significant increase in the number of images per registration. With a limit of 2000 images in a single registration, the copyright registration process will be useful for businesses.

  2. Alan Babcock
    May 24, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    All above seems very fair to me. My suggestion, increase cost to actually balance all expenses to the Copyright Office.

  3. George Thuronyi
    May 24, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    Thank you for your feedback. In order to submit a formal comment for consideration, please use our comment submission form.

  4. George Thuronyi
    May 24, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    Thank you for your feedback. In order to submit a formal comment for consideration, please use our comment submission form.

  5. Mike Morrell
    May 24, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    The pricing is already too much for many of us. The increase would be untenable.

  6. Vlada Rubarkh
    May 24, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    I believe this is a drastic increase in the fee schedule, and I am against it.

  7. William F. Bogle Jr.
    May 24, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    The fees and submission limits are wrong for photographers. We create more than other artists and writers. We should be able to upload an unlimited number for a fixed fee, or charge us less. We provide the content. There are already proposals with companies for blockchain solutions that would put copyright out of the picture, or modify its use substantially. Does copyright want to go the route of the postal service? Higher fees and less use?

  8. art stiles
    May 24, 2018 at 8:07 pm

    This fee increase seems pretty steep, especially with the number of photographs taken during a 12 month period. Not only that, but you now drastically limit the number of photo that can be registered at one time.
    In it’s simplest form, this equates to an almost 40 percent increase; however, for many, due to the number of shots taken, it will be much, much more than that.
    Basically, instead of protecting photographers, this will put many photographers out of business!

  9. Jack Reznicki
    May 24, 2018 at 11:00 pm

    For clarification, because I’m reading several different things. According to the schedule fee proposal in the Federal Register, it looks like the proposed fee for a group registration of published or unpublished work is $100. The $75 is proposed for a standard registration, not a group registration.

  10. Shoko Bo
    May 25, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    For a start don’t send paper mail, or at least use less paper. That’s why they invented the Email…

  11. Robert C. Neff
    July 6, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    The Copyright Office should be encouraging registration and outreach to increase participation. Instead it is doing everything it can to discourage registration. The Booz Allen report fails to suggest that the Copyright Office ask Congress to cover the budget. Nor does it address the ADVERSE impact to increase registration fees.

    In three months, wit others digital and mobile photography, I can easily register 2000 images. Add the increase with the recent change in group registration to limit submittals to 750, and the proposed $100 fee will be tripled every three months. Plus, if there is an issue with the registration and it is denied, you forfeit the $55 registration fee AND are changed $250 reconsideration fee to dispute this.

    The Copyright Office has failed to modernize and its web site has violated the Copyright Act. Yet, they allowed this. Customer service has been a joke and discouraged registration. The recent implementation of the new GRPPH rule caught photographers by surprise and their web site was not ready for the changes that would eventually be implemented. The real issue here is the Copyright Office operates like a dinosaur without NO regard to its customers. If this were a business, its would be out of business. The management has not learned how to champion “change.”

    The Copyright Office needs to go back to Congress and ask them to increase their budget. The Copyright Act is required by law and this is now putting registration every three months out of reach of small businesses. Registration is no longer viable option for a small business or non-professional photographer.

    Copyright Office must go to Congress and ask for a budget increase instead of asking us to pay for their inability to modernize, forecast the digital world.

    The Copyright Office needs to ask congress to remove the three month registration requirement to obtain statutory damages and attorney fees.

  12. Robert C. Neff
    July 19, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    Had submitted a new registration under GRPPH and was denied because the supporting EXCEL was not uploaded. The confirmation of my online files shows that it is there. Because I was denied, I have lost my $55 registration fee and this will cost me $250 to be reconsidered, through no fault of my own. I cannot reply with an email, I have to mail aletter for recondiseration. There is no online submittal to dispute this.

    Now the Copyright Office wants to increase our fees to $100. If CO is successful, they will just taken out $100 registration fee.

    Clearly the Copyright Office has no online plan to tell us what we will get for this $100. If it was like the last rate hike, there were no online changes.

    Congress needs to hold hearing on the Copyright’s performance. I will come testify.

  13. donald mecks
    July 26, 2018 at 11:38 am

    Just to much money it’s already to expensive!

  14. Mary De
    July 28, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    How about creating a special discounted fee for disabled and low income writers and artists? It’s hard enough as it is for many of us to afford the existing fees. Just to do an amendment is $$.
    Most artists are indie these days and there is no financial support to cover the fees. Raising the fees will make it very difficult for many of us to protect our work.

  15. Robin Cushman
    August 9, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    The process is arcane and growing increasingly anti-small business. Please request sufficient funding from Congress and stop making it harder for creators to register our material for copyright. Your task should be to encourage, not discourage, participation. The costs and lower image count will make it prohibitive for me and my small business.

  16. Joseph Sohm
    August 16, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    As a professional photographer of “Americana” themes I have been published more than 1 million times in my life and infringed upon by many who have used those images illegally and without my permission. Fortunately, my collection of about 34,000 COPYRIGHTED images protected me and I was able to prevent future abuses of my work, and better, to be compensated for those abuses. That said, most of my copyrights were done when it was affordable. The proposed rate increase is a significant one for photographers like myself who submit many images. Last year, my copyright fee doubled as they required me to register only up to 750 images at one time. Another increase, would make it virtually impossible to be able to afford to register my images – and thus protect them from future abuses. If the purpose of Copyright is protect the creators of our nation, an increase like this does the opposite, it punishes creators and charges them too much to get any benefit from copyrighting creative work. I am strongly opposed to such an increase. Joe Sohm

  17. Imran Anwar
    August 17, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    Any business or organization can claim, “We are raising prices from $100 to $150 even though it costs us $200.” Fine. Then why not let some private sector entrepreneurs and a Big 4 consulting firm team up to analyze why it costs $200 to do X, Y and Z. Eliminating bad processes, inefficient systems, incompetent people with low performance or customer complaints, etc. could show it actually costs $90 to do the same work in an effective organization and that could mean actually offering services at $75 instead of $150 in this example.

    IMRAN

  18. Steve Skoll
    August 20, 2018 at 7:31 pm

    The proposed fee increase will only serve to further alienate photographers from registering their images.

    I often register images from several photography assignments into one group registration of unpublished images per month. Due to time constraints sometimes that’s simply not possible. The proposed fee increase will significantly increase my cost of registration. As valuable as registering is, as it’s the leverage I need to take on those who infringe my images, their comes a point where the costs can appear to out weigh the benefits.

    I urge you to please reconsider the proposed fee increase. Far too few photographers register their images as is. The proposed fee increase will only hasten this unfortunate trend.

  19. cabis m brown
    August 31, 2018 at 10:29 am

    what is the new cost now.

  20. George Thuronyi
    September 2, 2018 at 12:17 pm

    You can find all our fees here on copyright.gov.

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