The Copyright Office is proposing to raise fees to register new works, and is currently seeking public comments on the proposed hike. The fee to file copyright registrations electronically would go up from $35 to $65. The fee to submit a paper registration would rise from $64 to $100. (These fees cover the cost of bulk registration of unpublished images.)

The Copyright Office is accepting comments from the public through May 14.  Concerned that the increased fees will discourage photographers from protecting their copyrighted works, the Advertising Photographers of America (APA) is encouraging photographers and other artists to voice their opinions now.

The Copyright Office’s proposed new fees and rules are spelled out in the Federal Register, which can be downloaded here in a PDF.

The Copyright Office claims it needs the fee increase to cover costs: “In fiscal year 2011, the Office recovered only 64 percent of its cost to process an online claim and only 58 percent of its cost to process paper applications.” And given that copyright registration service “benefits both copyright owners and the public,” the Office figures copyright holders will cough up the extra money.  Registering copyright before a work is infringed, for example, makes you eligible to collect statutory damages if you win an infringement claim in court. That’s useful clout when dealing with infringers.

The problem is, of course, that many creators fail to register copyrights until after they’ve seen their works copied, and want to take legal action. A higher fee isn’t going to encourage photographers to make registering and protecting their works part of their routine workflow, but how many photographers will it deter?

Comments on the proposed fee hike can be submitted using a form available here:
www.copyright.gov/docs/newfees/comments/


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