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New Fees Proposed for U.S. Copyright Office Services

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Let’s talk about fees. Not everyone’s favorite topic, I’ll admit, but it’s something the Copyright Office could not operate without.

Proposed Copyright Fee Schedule
Proposed Copyright Fee Schedule

Yesterday, the Copyright Office delivered our Fee Schedule and Analysis to Congress. Every three to five years, the Office engages in an in-depth study of our fees to determine whether to adjust them. To be clear, this fee study does not cover every fee that the Office charges, but it does cover those for services most used by the public, such as registration of claims and recordation of documents. Now that the fee study has been submitted, Congress has 120 days in which to either approve the fees by doing nothing, or pass a law stating that it does not approve of the new fees.

Part of the Office’s analysis of our fees concerns cost recovery, or what percentage of the cost of a particular service (such as processing a claim for registration) the Office should recover through fees. Recovery is not our only concern, however; we also consider fairness, equity, and the objectives of the copyright system. Thus, as a matter of practice, most of the Office’s fees only recover a percentage of costs (the exact percentage varies by fee). This is to encourage as much participation in the copyright system as possible by pricing our services so that they remain in reach of users.

Back in 2018 when we issued our request for public comments, the Office proposed several fee increases. We received numerous comments, most of them challenging these increases, and many arguing that adjusting fees to the proposed level would significantly reduce applications for copyright registration. The Office thoroughly considered all of the comments we received and as a result we have made several changes. Overall, a number of important fees have been kept the same, such as group registration for photographs, a few have been reduced, and some have increased slightly. Regarding the services most used by the public, the Office is now proposing raising the fee for the Standard Application from $55 to $65, which is $10 less than the 2018 proposal. Similarly, the Single Application (our lower-priced option for single works by individual authors) will go from $35 to $45, which is also $10 less than the 2018 proposal. None of these increases allows the Office to fully recover our costs, however.

The Office also has adjusted the fees for group options, which allow creators to register multiple works for a single fee and represent a tremendous value when looked at on a work-by-work basis. Indeed, one fee that was not raised—that for a group of published or unpublished photographs—works out to roughly 7 cents per work if the maximum of 750 photographs are registered. Similarly, the option for registering a claim in a group of contributions to periodicals allows registration of unlimited number of works for $85, provided they were all published within a twelve-month period.

Quote from Karyn A. TempleThe Copyright Office strives to make sure that our fees are both fiscally responsible and provide a good value for our customers. During the next few months, we will begin preparing the final rule that contains a schedule of all the new fees that will enter into effect next spring, barring congressional action. Please continue to watch our website and follow us on Twitter for all the work underway at the Copyright Office serving the copyright community.

Comments (8)

  1. Will these fees be applied to copyright registration fees? If so, are copyright registration fees going to be raised!

    • Thanks for your question. The proposal does recommend a modest increase in the Standard Application fee from $55 to $65 and in the Single Application (for single works by individual authors) from $35 to $45. If Congress takes no action to disapprove the proposal, the changes would happen in spring 2020.

  2. You should be reducing fees, not raising them. You know full well lots of working artists already struggle to pay these fees that we shouldn’t have to pay. Other western countries don’t force their artists to pay to register their work to protect their rights to their work. All you’re doing is making it more prohibitively expensive for working artists to protect their work and enabling people who steal our work and illegally profit from it.

  3. We are the Creators –
    Let Congress pay all fees –
    Why is the burden placed on Creators ?
    When the Public is the beneficiary of our works.

  4. Hi
    So can one file a copyright of multiple songs on one registration ? At a $55 cost
    Ricky Hitchcock

  5. For many, many years songwriters used to be able to copyright as many songs as they wanted for $35. Then the copyright office changed the fee to $50. Then the copyright office really stifled creativity by only allowing songwriters to copyright 10 songs (with other limitations) at a time for $50, and now, less than a year or two later, the copyright office is raising the price again to $65? This is not a sustainable model for artists at all. It discourages creativity and makes it less affordable for the people who are most vulnerable to being ripped off (lower income people) and who need protection the most. Very much shameful.

  6. I am a singer songwriter, and I want to know if I can copy write as many as 100 songs like a catalog, I have combine all of my songs in one Catalog folder, and I will like to forward the folder to the Copy write office, as soon as possible, with the amount of $80, is it ok if I do that,

    • For a question like this, contact us online or call us at (202) 707-3000 or 1 (877) 476-0778 (toll-free).

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