Currently only unpublished images, single published images, or groups of images published in a single unit of publication can be registered using the eCO online registration system. If you are not sure if your work is published or unpublished, go here. For details on submitting a paper registration, go here.
The online system requires that you do some preparatory work prior to going online to fill out the application. Currently, Mac users will need to use the Firefox browser. Get more info on browser support and configuration.
Create a login. If this is your first online application, you must register prior to your submission and wait for an e-mail confirmation. Using an approved web browser, with pop-ups permitted, start at https://eco.copyright.gov/eService_enu/. Go to the right side of the screen and, if you are new user, “click here to register” and go through the process of setting up an account.
This starting point skips over an earlier screen containing a Privacy Notice. At least once, you should begin on the Copyright Office home page and read the warnings.
Note that you can use eCO even if you will be mailing in a disk of images or a set of tear-sheets. The eCO system will give you a label with special codes to tie your physical materials to the electronic data.
Filling out the form
We suggest that you skim this tutorial, then come back when you are about to file your first electronic registration. Open a new browser window to the registration site and just use the screen shots to keep you in sync as you proceed step by step.
You may also wish to consult the Copyright Office’s own tutorial, available as PowerPoint or PDF, and available here. It covers many other types of registrations, not only photographs.
Now that you have completed all of your preparatory work, it is time to begin the actual online registration. Using an approved web browser, with pop-ups allowed, start here: https://eco.copyright.gov/eService_enu/ and, with your username and password, log in on the right side of the screen.
On the welcome page, go to “Copyright Services” on the right side and click “Register a New Claim.” Here’s what you will see:
Want instructions? On this screen (above), you have the option to read the instructions for any of the 3 steps. When you are ready to start the registration process, use the “Start Registration” button.
To register photographs, select “Work of the Visual Arts” from the pull down menu. (The text links open Help windows.) Notice that the box on the right shows your progress in the registration process. You are on the first step.
The next page asks for a title for the submission. Click on “NEW*”
From now on, if you wish to go back to an earlier page, you must use the “BACK” button on the upper left-hand of the page, rather than your browser’s back button.
In the first pull-down, select “Title of Work Being Registered.” In the second box, put a descriptive title such as “450 unpublished photos Vol. 1, January 2009.” Click Save.
Now you can edit the title that you just created by clicking on the pencil icon, or just continue by clicking on the “Next” button.
The next window asks if this is published or unpublished work. (If you have a question about this, see our tutorial on the subject.) Then enter the year of completion. In most cases, it is this year. In most cases, you have not preregistered this work, so leave the Preregistration Number blank.
If your work has been published, the eCO process only permits registration of “any single work” or “multiple published works contained in the same unit of publication and owned by the same claimant.” If you plan to register several separately published works, you must use a paper form. Follow these instructions instead.
Click “Next” to proceed to the Authors screen. In most cases, you are the author of the work, so click “Add Me.”
Now you will enter any info that has not filled in automatically. If you did not sign a work-for-hire agreement, be sure to check NO in that pull down. Click “Save” to move to the next screen.
Click “Photographs” and “Save.”
You now have a chance to confirm the data and, if changes are needed, edit it by clicking the pencil icon. Then click “Next.”
For Claimant, click “Add Me.”
You can leave the Organization field empty and ignore the transfer statement and then click “Save.” Exception: If your business is incorporated, you may need to transfer the copyright from you as an individual creator to your corporation. The Claimant screen must state the correct legal ownership of the copyright.
We’ll skip a few screen photos now; they look quite similar to the ones you have already seen. We’ll just tell you what’s going on:
Your work is probably not a “derivative work” or a “compilation,” so leave all fields empty and click on “Next.”
For the next three screens (the Rights and Permissions Contact,Correspondent, and Mail Certificate pages), click “Add Me,” while checking the automatic entries for accuracy.
If you are in a rush to beat some litigation deadline — and are willing to pay over $700 for the privilege — fill out the “Special Handling” window. Most of us will leave it blank and just hit “Next.”
On the “Certification” page, enter your name, and click the boxes in which you certify that everything you’ve said is true, and check the method of image delivery to the copyright office. Click “Next” to review all your entries.
If you have to edit anything, you have to return to a previous page, one at a time, using the “Back” button on the form pages.
You might also consider clicking on the “Save Template” button to aid your next registrations. You would just edit the title of the next registration, along with the dates of creation and publication.
To continue, click the “Add to Cart” Button. You cannot edit anything after this screen; so double-check all your data.
Pay the fee
You now enter the “Pay” module. Look this over and if you are ready to pay, click “Checkout.”
You will probably be paying by direct electronic debit to your checking account (ACH) or credit card, so click that button to proceed.
On the next page choose the ACH or credit card links and fill in the required information. Here, we are showing the ACH screen.
If you opt to pay with plastic, scroll down until you see this screen instead.
Click “Continue,” double check your information, enter your e-mail address, check the authorization box and click the “Submit” button.
Submitting the online deposit copies
When you get to the screen that says that your payment was successful, you can begin the next process of submitting your work. Click on the “Submit Your Work” button to upload the ZIP files that you created earlier, or to print out a shipping slip to attach to the physical deposit that you will send in by FedEx. (We recommend that you avoid US Mail).
On the next page, you will click either the “Send by Mail” link or the “Upload Deposit” link. You will now proceed with the uploading process. An “Electronic Deposit Upload” window will open.
If you followed our instructions for creating ZIP files, you will click the first “Browse” button and search your hard drive for the first ZIP file of images. When you find it, and select it for upload, you can enter the file’s name in the “Item Title” field (your screen will probably look different). Proceed to enter any remaining Zip files. When finished, click the “Submit Files to Copyright Office” button
As upload works, a progress bar will appear. The window will list the files that were uploaded, with a service request number, which you should note for future reference. Click “Close Window, ” and you are done.
You can go to the “Home” page to see the Deposit Submission listed and click on the Case Number to see the status of the claim and the upload. The ZIP files will be opened and checked to verify the integrity of the files and then they will appear as received. If at any time you lose your connection, or something crashes, you would come back to this page, click on the link for the case, and continue with your registration.