Reasons to Register with the Copyright Office


Any work created in the United States after January 1, 1978 is automatically protected by copyright law. BUT there’s a catch. If you do not register your work with the Copyright Office, you lose key enforcement tools. And if the party who infringed your work knows this, you lose leverage in trying to negotiate a settlement.

But if you look at it the other way, registration of your work with the U.S. Copyright Office is your legal backstop. It provides an avenue for litigation, which usually serves as a reason for settling out of court. It’s simple math. An infringer is more likely to pay a settlement rather than pay a lot more to defend himself in a case he probably won’t win. Ask any copyright attorney what they want most from creative professionals, and they will probably say that they want everyone who intends to protect their works to register them BEFORE those works enter the market in any form.

Register Right Away

The best time to file a registration application with the Copyright Office is as soon as the work is done and before it enters the world — even social media. In addition to obtaining full protection for the work, there are certain financial advantages to registering right away.

For instance, groups of works that are not yet published can be registered in bundles of 10 per application–or up to 750 per application if they’re photographs. And since the meaning of “published” confuses a lot of people, registration before the works go anywhere is an easy way to be sure they are not published.

You can register works directly at the Copyright Office, but many people find the Copyright Office website clunky and confusing. As a RightsClick subscriber, our software will walk you through all the key information you need, help explain the technical terminology, and submit the application to the Copyright Office for you. At this time, we facilitate many common registration types (see chart below).

RightsClick charges a service fee to process your application, but our fees are much lower than other registration services. Plus, our application interface is easy to use, and once you register by using RightsClick, the registration information becomes part of the data you maintain in your Portfolio.

Considering a Small Claim?

On June 16, 2022, the Copyright Claims Board (CCB) began receiving small claims by copyright owners. Unlike federal litigation, a small claim may be filed for infringement of a work that was not registered at the time of the infringement. BUT a registration application must be filed along with the CCB claim, and the Board will proceed with the claim after the Copyright Office has approved the registration. The Copyright Office has also reduced its expedited registration fee to $50, if the service is requested in conjunction with a CCB claim.

Registration Fees (for RightsClick subscribers)

What’s a Work Made for Hire? See our Glossary.