The cost of a copyright will depend to a large extent on the cost of producing the creative content itself. This is because copyright protection comes about once a creative work with a modicum of originality is fixed in a tangible medium of expression, and assuming that there is some non-functional aspect of the work that is conceptually separable. Thus, the cost of obtaining a copyright in a computer program would be equivalent to the costs associated with writing the actual code and making the computer program operable. In other words, the copyright costs are zero when it comes to actually possessing those rights at law.

That said, there is the option to obtain a federal copyright registration, which at one time was a pre-requisite to obtaining a copyright but at this point no longer is. The lowest possible cost of obtaining a copyright registration from the U.S. Copyright Office is $35, but this can be achieved only through the filing of an online registration application. Registration of a copyright by way of paper filing costs $65, and registration of a group of published photographs by way of a paper filing will cost $65 as well. The submission of a registration of renewal claim on Form RE by way of paper filing costs $115, and such a form is submitted in conjunction with a copyright author or owner’s exercise of the statutory right to extend copyright protection for an additional 67 years. The filing of the addendum to Form RE by way of paper application will cost $220.

If seeking to file a copyright registration for a “collective work,” i.e. a work in which a number of contributions, constituting separate and independent works in themselves, are assembled into a collective whole, Form SE can be filed by way of paper application for $25. However, the work must be essentially an all-new collective work or issue, the author must be a citizen or domiciliary of the United States, the work must be made for hire, the authors and claimants must be the same persons or organizations, and the work must have first been published in the United States. Such collective works will typically come in the form of periodicals, magazines, anthologies, or other collections of works. Keep in mind, individual authors of just one piece in a multi-piece collective work will not be able to obtain copyright protection for the collective work, but only for the individual work. Thus, even if an author has written a piece that has contributed to an anthology or other collective work, that person should apply for an individual copyright registration, not for a collective work registration.

Finally, it should be noted that amendment to a copyright registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is possible. Those seeking to amend a completed copyright registration must pay a fee of $100 for the filing of Form CA, Supplementary registration to amend a completed registration.