The fee for official copyright registration is about to go up. Every three to five years, the U.S. Copyright Office does an in-depth study of its fees to determine whether to adjust them, then sends its results to Congress, which then has 120 days to do nothing (meaning approval) or pass a law disapproving the price recommendations.
The Office is now proposing raising the fee for the Standard Application from $55 to $65, which is $10 less than the 2018 proposal. Similarly, the Single Application (the lower-priced option for single works by individual authors) will go from $35 to $45, which is also $10 less than the 2018 proposal.
Here’s the proposal as it pertains to music:
|REGISTRATION TYPE||CURRENT PRICE||PROPOSED PRICE|
|Single work (electronic filing)||$35||$45|
|Single work (paper filing)||$85||$125|
|Group of works (album – electronic filing only)||$55||$65|
Remember that you don’t have to file a registration with the Copyright Office. Once you publish a work anywhere online it’s automatically copyrighted. You do have to register in order to file a claim with the Copyright Office as proposed by the CASE Act (copyright small claims) however.
Copyright registration is a matter of time-stamping your work in order to verify that you created it first, so it’s not something that you can really do at a later date and have it mean anything. That’s why it’s always a balancing act between filing and not filing for most songwriters and artists. Many are not willing to spend the time and money involved.
But if a timestamp of your creation is all that’s necessary, you’ll have that from almost everywhere online that it’s posted automatically. Still, the safest way is still with a formal registration from the Copyright Office.