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Copyright Issues

COPYRIGHT OFFICE FEE INCREASES SOON TO TAKE PLACE–WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR YOU?

The Copyright Office is in the final phase of increasing fees for various services.  If you were considering filing for copyright registration or recording any documents, you may wish to act before October 1, 2012, when the new fees are likely to go into effect.  The Copyright Office’s fee increase proposal may be found at http://www.copyright.gov/fls/sl4i.pdf.

 The proposed fee changes include:

Existing Fee      Proposed Fee    Service Covered

$ 35.00                  $ 45.00              E-file single claim-author

$ 35.00                  $ 65.00              E-file other

$ 65.00                  $100.00            Paper form filing

$ 65.00                  $100.00            Paper filing/group

$760.00                 $800.00           S/H registration

$105.00                 $120.00             Record single title

$480.00                  $550.00            S/H recording

For those with large bodies of work, these administrative costs are a sizeable expense.   If, as a copyright owner, you have been debating whether to file for registration of your work, the pending increase in fees should give you an incentive to reach your decision sooner rather than later.  As with any business expense, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of spending money now or in the future.

If you conclude that your works may be infringed and that infringement could affect your bottom line, then regular registration of your works may be the most cost effective approach to take.  While copyright rights attach as soon as the work is fixed, effectively enforcing those rights requires additional effort and expense and, to enforce copyright rights in federal court, you must have registered your work for the court to hear your case.  At that critical time, you may be faced with paying the special handling fee ($760/$800) in addition to the regular filing fee.  Not a pleasant surprise.

Depending on the type and frequency of the works you produce, you may be eligible to file a group of works as part of one registration, saving administrative costs.  Examples of this kind of group coverage could apply to a serialized work (magazine or newsletter) or collection of published photographs by the same photographer in the same year. (See Copyright Office Circular 40 for more details.   http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ40.pdf)  However, in most cases, each work will require its own registration in order to obtain the fullest protection offered by US copyright law.

About Law Office of Barbara I. Berschler

In addition to advising my clients about general business matters associated with business formation and operation, I counsel for-profit and not-for-profit organizations about the protection and use of intellectual property.

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