The U.S. Copyright Office in the Library of Congress is amending its fees for copyright services. Thanks to cost-savings achieved through increased office automation, some fees will remain the same or decrease. Other fees—mostly for services requiring manual labor—will rise. The new fees are scheduled to take effect on Aug. 1, 2009.
Marybeth Peters, the Register of Copyrights, submitted a report to Congress in March analyzing changes in costs arising from the reengineering of the Copyright Office in 2007 and the introduction last year of an electronic system for processing copyright applications. The report also considered general economic factors and the requirement in copyright law that fees be fair and equitable and support the objectives of the copyright system. The proposed fee for filing a copyright application online, using the new electronic Copyright Office known as eCO, remains $35. The report concluded that the Copyright Office realizes substantial savings from eCO as a result of not having to process a paper form, manually enter and quality-review data, and process a fee payment.
Fees for other filing options, however, will rise. The proposed new fee for using fill-in Form CO is $50, an increase of $5. The new fee for paper applications is $65, an increase of $20. The report stated that these fees reflect the Copyright Office’s desire to “discourage use of the traditional paper forms, which are the most costly to provide and process, by imposing a fee that reflects this greater cost.”
“More than 50 percent of copyright claims are now being submitted through eCO,” Peters said. “If the new fee structure inspires another 30 to 40 percent of filers to use eCO, the total annual savings for filers and the government will be tremendous, and filers will get their registration certificates more quickly—the waiting time to receive certificates is much shorter for users of eCO than for those who submit paper applications.”
Other advantages of electronic filing—in addition to a lower filing fee and the fastest processing time—include the ability to track the status of claims online, to pay by credit or debit card and to upload certain categories of registered works electronically.
The Copyright Office is proposing that corresponding fees stay the same or be reduced for services for which costs have remained constant or dropped since fees were last adjusted in July 2006. For services where costs have gone up—specifically, those requiring manual work by staff—the Copyright Office is proposing fee increases to offset rising costs. In addition to registrations filed on paper applications, services affected include document recordation and record searches.
“The Copyright Office has traditionally charged fees that recover less than the full cost of registration,” Peters explained. “It does so for two reasons: first, to encourage participation in the copyright system as a way to provide the fullest possible record of copyrighted works for public use and, second, to enhance the Library of Congress collections.”
Applicants for copyright registration must submit copies of their works. Each year, the Copyright Office typically forwards to the Library’s collections more than a million deposited copies, including books, maps, music and motion pictures.
For a complete list of adjusted fees, go to www.copyright.gov/docs/fees.html.
Under copyright law, fee adjustments proposed by the Register of Copyrights can be implemented 120 days after a new schedule is submitted to Congress unless Congress enacts a law beforehand stating that it does not approve the new fees.