The copyright registration process is a fairly straightforward and highly beneficial process whereby the person seeking to register a copyright submits an application, a filing fee, and a non-returnable “deposit,” i.e. a copy or copies of the work being registered and “deposited” with the Copyright Office.

While registration can be completed both online or on paper, for a number of reasons an online application is preferable. Copyright registration online requires a lower filing fee, it has the fastest processing time, it allows applicants to utilize an online status tracking system, it provides for secure payment by credit or debit card, electronic check, or Copyright Office deposit account, and it allows for direct upload of certain categories of deposits directly into eCO as electronic files. That said, you can still register through eCO and save money if you submit a hard-copy deposit of the work for which copyright protection is sought. When you go online to the eCO system, the system will prompt you to specify whether you intend to submit an electronic or a hard-copy deposit, and instructions will be provided accordingly. Thus, if logistics dictate that you submit a hard-copy deposit, but you still wish to save some money, you can submit a hard-copy deposit but complete the remaining tasks associated with registration online. Basic claims include (1) a single work; (2) multiple unpublished works if the elements are assembled in an orderly form; the combined elements bear a single title identifying the collection as a whole; the copyright claimant in all the elements and in the collection as a whole is the same; and all the elements are by the same author or, if they are by different authors, at least one of the authors has contributed copyrightable authorship to each element; and (3) multiple published works if they are all first published together in the same publication on the same date and owned by the same claimant.

A paper application is also available, and applicants submitted paper applications will use forms TX (literary works, software); VA (visual arts works); PA (performing arts works, including motion pictures); SR (sound recordings); and SE (single serials). Certain applications must be completed on paper, and these include Form D-VH for vessel hull designs, Form MW for registration of mask works, Form CA to correct an error or to amplify the information given in a registration, Form GATT for registration of works in which the U.S. copyright was restored under the 1994 Uruguay Round Agreements Act, Form RE for renewal of copyright claims, and applications for group registration, including group registration of automated databases consisting predominantly of photographs and Form GR/PPh (published photographs), unless permission to enter the online pilot project mentioned above in “Online Application” is approved by the Visual Arts Division; Form GR/CP (contributions to periodicals); Form SE/Group (serials); and Form G/DN (daily newspapers and newsletters).

For more information on copyright registration, consult an experienced IP attorney.