Copyright Registration Basics

  • Jun 11 2018
  • |
  • Category: News

Copyright is a right that grants the creator of a work exclusive rights to its use and distribution. And although ownership vests immediately in the creator of an original work under common law, copyright registration, which is a procedure for creating a record of a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office (“copyright office”), provides creators additional protection and allows access to the federal court system in case of infringement. Below is an overview of the copyright registration process.

The Process

In order to register a copyright, the following items must be submitted to the copyright office:

  • Completed application form;
  • Filing fee; and
  • Copies of the work being registered.

For an unpublished work or a work that was first published outside of the U.S., one copy must be submitted to the copyright office. And for published works, two copies must be submitted to the copyright office.

Registration by Mail

Copyright registration may be performed by mail, and the copyright office has different forms for visual art works, literary works, performing arts works, single serials, and sound recordings. The appropriate forms may be obtained via the copyright office website. The copyright office requires completed forms to be submitted in the same package as the work and payment.

Online Registration

The copyright office allows for online registration. The types of copyrights that may be registered online include:

  • Visual works of art;
  • Literary works of art;
  • Performing arts works;
  • Motion pictures; and
  • Sound recordings.

However, even when registration is completed online, there are a limited number of types of works that may be submitted electronically. These include:

  • Works that are exclusively published electronically;
  • Unpublished works; and
  • Certain three-dimensional works.

All other works must be mailed to the copyright office even if registration is completed online.


A copyright registration is effective on the date that the copyright office receives all of the required registration materials. It isn’t necessary to wait until a registration certificate is received from the copyright office for the copyright itself to become effective.

New York Attorneys

The federal copyright registration process requires strict adherence to the copyright registration laws and impeccable attention to detail. Failure to comply with federal copyright registration laws can result in wasted time, money, and a rejected copyright.  Therefore, if you are the creator of intellectual property of any kind, please consider contacting Carter DeLuca Farrell & Schmidt to discuss your situation. Our team of experienced New York copyright registration attorneys will guide you through the copyright registration process, ensuring that each step is properly completed and increasing your chances of a successful copyright registration. In addition, our New York attorneys will answer any questions you may have along the way in order to ensure that you are fully informed and comfortable with the copyright registration process. Please contact us for a consultation.