|Registering a Work
How do I register my copyright?
To register a work, submit a completed application form, a nonrefundable
filing fee, which is $35 if you register online or $50 if you register using
Form CO; and a nonreturnable copy or copies of the work to be
registered. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section
Where can I get application forms?
Can I make copies of the application form?
You may not make copies of Form CO, which is available only on the Copyright
Office website. Form CO is a fill-in form that creates and contains unique
2-D barcodes as you fill it in. The barcodes contain the information you
place on the form, and they enable the Office to process your application
faster and more efficiently.
Can I file online?
Yes. We offer online registration through our electronic Copyright Office
(eCO) at a reduced fee of $35. See SL-35.
What is the registration fee?
If you file online using eCO eService, the fee is $35 per application.
If you file using Form CO, the fee is $50 per application. Generally, each
work requires a separate application. See Circular
4, Copyright Fees.
Do you take credit cards?
If you file your application online using eCO eService, you may pay by
credit card. Credit cards are not accepted for registration through
the mail, but may be used for registrations that are filed in person
in the Copyright Office. There are other services for which the Copyright
Office will accept a credit card payment. For more information see Circular
4, Copyright Fees, section Certain
Fees and Services May Be Charged to a Credit Card.
Do I have to send in my work? Do I get it back?
Yes, you must send the required copy or copies of the work to be registered.
Your copies will not be returned. If you register online using eCO eService,
you may attach an electronic copy of your deposit. However, even if you
register online, if the Library of Congress requires a hard-copy deposit
of your work, you must send what the Library defines as the
"best edition" of your work. For further information, see Circular
7b, Best Edition of Published Copyrighted Works for the Collection
of the Library of Congress, and Circular
Deposit of Copies or Phonorecords for the Library of Congress. Upon
their deposit in the Copyright Office, under sections 407 and 408 of
the copyright law, all copies and identifying material, including those
deposited in connection with claims that have been refused registration,
are the property of the U.S. government.
Will my deposit be damaged by security measures in place on Capitol
To avoid damage to your hard-copy deposit caused by necessary security
measures, package the following items in boxes rather than envelopes for
mailing to the Copyright Office:
electronic media such as audiocassettes, videocassettes,
CDs, and DVDs
slick advertisements, color photocopies, and other print
May I register more than one work on the same application? Where
do I list the titles?
You may register unpublished works as a collection on one application with
one title for the entire collection if certain conditions are met. It is
not necessary to list the individual titles in your collection.
Published works may only be registered as a collection if they were actually
first published as a collection and if other requirements have been met.
See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section “Registration
Do I have to use my real name on the form? Can I use a stage name
or a pen name?
There is no legal requirement that the author be identified by his or her
real name on the application form. For further information, see FL
101, Pseudonyms. If filing under a fictitious name, check the “Pseudonymous” box
when giving information about the authors.
Will my personal information be available to the public?
Yes. Please be aware that when you register your claim to a copyright in
a work with the U.S. Copyright Office, you are making a public record.
All the information you provide on your copyright registration is available
to the public and will be available on the Internet.
How long does the registration process take?
The time the Copyright Office requires to process an application varies, depending on the number of applications the Office is receiving and clearing at the time of submission and the extent of questions associated with the application.
Processing Time for Online Filing with Uploaded Electronic Deposit Copy: Half of online filers who upload an electronic deposit copy should receive a certificate within three and one-half months, while most should receive a certificate within four and one-half months.
Processing Time for Online Filing with Mailed Physical Deposit Copy: Half of online filers who mail a physical deposit copy to the Office should receive a certificate of registration within four and one-half months of submission, while most (90 percent) should receive a certificate within seven and one-half months of submission.
Processing Time for Filing on Fill-in Form CO and on Paper Applications: Half of Form CO filers should receive a certificate within 18 months of submission, while most Form CO filers (90 percent) should receive a certificate within 20 months of submission. Whatever time is needed to issue a certificate, the effective date of registration is the day the Copyright Office receives a complete submission in acceptable form. You do not need to wait for a certificate to proceed with publication.
Note: Whatever time is needed to issue a certificate, the effective date of registration is the day the Copyright Office receives a complete submission in acceptable form. You do not need to wait for a certificate to proceed with publication.
Please note that our mail service is severely disrupted.(Read
Can I submit my manuscript on a computer disk?
No. Floppy disks and other removal media such as Zip disks, except for
CD-ROMs, are not acceptable. Therefore, the Copyright Office still generally
requires a printed copy or audio recording of the work for deposit. However,
if you register online using eCO eService, you may attach an electronic
copy of your deposit. However, even if you register online, if the Library
of Congress requires a hard-copy deposit of your work, you must send what
the Library defines as the "best edition" of your work. For further information,
see Circular 7b, Best Edition of
Published Copyrighted Works for the Collection of the Library of Congress,
and Circular 7d, Mandatory Deposit
of Copies or Phonorecords for the Library of Congress.
Can I submit a CD-ROM of my work?
Yes. The deposit requirement consists of the best edition of the CD-ROM
package of any work, including the accompanying operating software, instruction
manual, and a printed version, if included in the package.
Does my work have to be published to be protected?
Publication is not necessary for copyright protection.
How much do I have to change in my own work to make a new claim of copyright?
You may make a new claim in your work if the changes are substantial and
creative, something more than just editorial changes or minor changes.
This would qualify as a new derivative work. For instance, simply making
spelling corrections throughout a work does not warrant a new registration,
but adding an additional chapter would. See Circular
14, Copyright Registration for Derivative Works, for further
Do you have special mailing requirements?
If you register online, you may attach an electronic copy of your deposit
unless a hard-copy deposit is required under the "Best Edition" requirements
of the Library of Congress. See Circular
If you file using a paper application, our only requirement is that all
three elements—the application, the copy or copies of the work together
with the shipping slip printed when you fill out Form CO online, and the
filing fee—be sent in the same package. Please limit any individual
box to 20 pounds. Many people send their material to us by certified mail,
with a return receipt request, but this is not required.
Please note that our mail service is severely disrupted. (Read
| Note: The Copyright Office offers introductory
answers to frequently asked questions about copyright, registration,
and services of the Office. Links throughout the answers will guide
you to further information on our website or from other sources. For
any other questions, please visit our Contact Us page.