Guest Post: Copyright Registration Strategies


By Talia Kosh, Esq.

In my last blog post, “Is the Copyright Office Inflating the Need For Orphan Works Legislation?” my main discussion points there were few, if any, comments about the substantive opinions presented. But a few readers did have issues with my conclusory statements wherein I characterized copyright registration as “cheap and easy.” In one respect, I admit, I shouldn’t refer to anything as “cheap and easy” these days, as it is a wholly inaccurate description of pretty much everything. So, let me qualify this-it is cheap and easy compared to the costs and difficulty in protecting other kinds of intellectual property, like patents and trademarks. Copyright registration is something most artists can experiment without legal assistance and great cost, outside of more complex registration questions. However, this does not really help individual artists or small businesses who produce a lot of content. So let’s break it down and then you can make your own conclusions about how cheap and easy it is, depending on what type of content you are registering. At the very least t it can help you get strategic about what you choose to register, if anything at all. And what I state here will probably raise even more questions, but let’s dig in.

Reader and blogger, Edward Hasbrouck, was one of the commentators on my last post, and questioned my assessment of copyright registration being cheap and easy. He tweeted, Registering copyright in Website or blog w/daily updates or Twitter feed, Facebook timeline requires separate fee for each day of pub. Total $12K + per year.  Another reader stated, I represent a creator who has 8,000 creative works. At $35 a registration, the cost is $280,000. Getting documentation of first publication will take hours of research traveling to libraries to go through microfiche to find long bankrupt publications. The cost to hire someone to do this could run in the thousands too. If I register via the yearly publication fee, the process of filling out each form takes about an hour and costs $85 x 28 years = $2295 plus the labor costs of about $500 but doesn’t provide as much protection against works getting orphaned due to the mass grouping. There’s a lot of important issues raised by these readers, which I will attempt to address in this post.

To Register or Not to Register. Is that the Question?

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