The United States Copyright Office (USCO) announced February 19, 2020 that it’s “adopting a new fee schedule for services in the following areas: registration, recordation, record retrieval, search and certification, the Licensing Division, and other services.”
This USCO change stems from a series of studies conducted to determine what fees need to be modified for services provided by the USCO. The USCO revisits this issue every three to five years and considered over 160 public comments in deciding the USCO’s most recent change. So, mark your calendars everyone because this new fee schedule will take effect starting March 20, 2020.
What does this mean for ASMP Members and photographers all around? While there are many small changes, photographers by and large were spared significant cost increases. Here are a few things you should be aware of. The standard registration fee for Copyright Registration will increase from $55 to $65. A Standard Application for Copyright Registration through the USCO is used to register most works such as an original work, derivative work, collective work or compilation.
However, photographers may be able to get around this increased cost by registering a group of photos under one Copyright application by using the “Group of Photographs” application instead of the “Standard Application.” This option is beneficial to photographers because the cost of registering a group of published or unpublished photographs remains at $55 per application! Although this may not be an option for every Copyright you register, if it can be registered within the “group” category, you’re off the hook from the $10 increase.
Registration is often the main concern for artists using USCO services. Although the USCO made either minor changes (or none at all) to most Copyright Registration fees when it comes to registering photographs, the USCO did adjust fees for “special services and Licensing Division services” as well. Despite this uncommon use for artists using USCO services, some changes include an increase in fees to: (1) appeal denied claims for Copyright Registration; (2) voluntarily cancel registration; and, (3) for special handling for fee record retrieving, copying, search and certification by USCO staff.
The USCO claims this shift is to recover regular costs incurred by the Copyright Office on a day-to-day basis. Despite these changes coming a month from now, Copyright Registration for photographers won’t change significantly. In light of these modifications, let’s hope this adjustment will only increase the efficiency of the USCO as it claims.