Copyright Registration

Registration is a legal formality intended to make a public record of the copyright.

Registration is not a condition of copyright protection, however registration:

establishes a public record of the copyright claim,

is necessary for works of US origin before an infringement suit may be filed,

will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate, if made before or within five years of publication,

must be made within three months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, in order for the owner to be eligible for statutory damages and attorney’s fees in civil actions (otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available), and

allows the owner to record the registration with the US Customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies.

Application for Registration

An application for copyright registration contains three essential elements:

a completed application form,

a nonrefundable filing fee, and

a nonreturnable deposit (i.e., a copy of the work being registered and deposited with the Copyright Office).

Online Registration

Literary works, visual arts works, performing arts works, including motion pictures, sound recordings and single serials may be registered online through the electronic Copyright Office (eCO).

Advantages of online filing include

a lower filing fee,

the fastest processing time,

online status tracking,

secure payment by credit or debit card, electronic check, or Copyright Office deposit account, and

 the ability to upload certain categories of deposits directly into eCO as electronic files.

Applicants for Registration

The following persons are legally entitled to submit an application form:

an author, who is the person who created the work or, if the work was made for hire, the person or organization for whom the work was prepared,

a copyright claimant, who is a person or organization who has obtained by contract the right to claim legal title to the copyright in an application for copyright registration,

an owner of exclusive right, who is the owner of that particular right.  Any owner of an exclusive right may apply for registration of a claim in the work, and

a duly authorized agent of such author, other copyright claimant, or owner of exclusive right(s).


The typical cost for preparing and filing a copyright application electronically is $200 USD, which excludes the filing fee to the US Copyright Office, which is $35 USD (see US Copyright Office Fee Schedule). 

If you have a question about registration, askme at