Copyright Registration

Copyright Registration and Deposit Requirements

In general, copyright registration is a legal formality intended to make a public record of the basic facts of a particular copyright. However, registration is not a condition of copyright protection. Even though registration is not a requirement for protection, the copyright law provides several inducements or advantages to encourage copyright owners to make registration. Among these advantages are the following:

  • Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim.
  • Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U. S. origin.
  • If made before or within five years of publication, registration will establish prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate.
  • If registration is made within three months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney’s fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. Otherwise, only an award of actual damages and profits is available to the copyright owner.
  • Registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the U. S. Customs Service for protection against the importation of infringing copies.

Registration may be made at any time within the life of the copyright. Unlike the law before 1978, when a work has been registered in unpublished form, it is not necessary to make another registration when the work becomes published, although the copyright owner may register the published edition, if desired.


Filing a Preregistration

Preregistration is a service intended for works that have had a history of prerelease infringement. To be eligible for preregistration, a work must be unpublished and must be in the process of being prepared for commercial distribution. It must also fall within a class of works determined by the Register of Copyrights to have had a history of infringement prior to authorized commercial distribution. Preregistration is not a substitute for registration.


Effective Date of Registration

A copyright registration is effective on the date the Copyright Office receives all the required elements in acceptable form. The time the Copyright Office requires to process an application varies, depending on the amount of material the Office is receiving.


Mandatory Deposit for Works Published in the United States

Although a copyright registration is not required, the Copyright Act establishes a mandatory deposit requirement for works published in the United States. In general, the owner of copyright or the owner of the exclusive right of publication in the work has a legal obligation to deposit in the Copyright Office, within three months of publication in the United States, two copies (or in the case of sound recordings, two phonorecords) for the use of the Library of Congress. Failure to make the deposit can result in fines and other penalties but does not affect copyright protection.

If a registration for a claim to copyright in a published work is filed online and the deposit is submitted online, the actual physical deposit must still be submitted to satisfy mandatory deposit requirements.

Certain categories of works are exempt entirely from the mandatory deposit requirements, and the obligation is reduced for certain other categories.


Use of Mandatory Deposit to Satisfy Registration Requirements

For works published in the United States, the copyright law contains a provision under which a single deposit can be made to satisfy both the deposit requirements for the Library and the registration requirements. To have this dual effect, the copies or phonorecords must be accompanied by the prescribed application form and filing fee.


Who May File an Application Form?

The following persons are legally entitled to submit an application form:

  • The author. This is either the person who actually created the work or, if the work was made for hire, the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared.
  • The copyright claimant. The copyright claimant is defined in Copyright Office regulations as either the author of the work or a person or organization that has obtained ownership of all the rights under the copyright initially belonging to the author. This category includes a person or organization who has obtained by contract the right to claim legal title to the copyright in an application for copyright registration.
  • The owner of exclusive right(s). Under the law, any of the exclusive rights that make up a copyright and any subdivision of them can be transferred and owned separately, even though the transfer may be limited in time or place of effect. The term “copyright owner” with respect to any one of the exclusive rights contained in a copyright refers to the owner of that particular right. Any owner of an exclusive right may apply for registration of a claim in the work.
  • The duly authorized agent of such author, other copyright claimant, or owner of exclusive right(s). Any person authorized to act on behalf of the author, other copyright claimant, or owner of exclusive rights may apply for registration.

Copyright Lawyer Services

Copyright law is primarily federal law, as such, the copyright law firm of Hunziker Legal Services is happy to provide copyright attorney services to those clients that come from around the world by phone, fax, letter, and email. If you live in any of the following areas you may also come to my Boulder or Denver, Colorado office to meet me in person, my copyright law firm is located in Colorado close to: Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont, Broomfield, Westminister, Arvada, Northglenn, Thornton, Centennial, Lakewood, Brighton, Berkley, Aurora, Columbine, Commerce City, Englewood, Federal Heights, Golden, Greenwood Village, Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Parker, Sheryl Wood, Welby, and Wheat Ridge.

Copyright law is fairly complex here are some links that should explain some of the basic concepts::


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Copyright claimed in formatting, modifications, and links exclusive of U. S. government Publication http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/doc/general/


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About Will Hunziker

I am a copyright attorney in Denver and Boulder, Colorado where I specialize in: patent, trademark, FDA, entertainment, copyright, trade secret, advertising, corporate,and business law. I pride myself on being a copyright attorney with a cheap fee who answers my calls personally and gives each and every one of my clients the same aggresive advocacy they can come to rely on again and again.

As an experienced copyright lawyer constantly striving to be the best copyright attorney in Boulder and Denver, Colorado; I commit a large portion of my leisure time to studying the law and I am proud be an expert lawyer in some of the most specialized areas of law; as such, I frequently work by referral from other attorneys and offer outside counsel services for small to mid-sized businesses.


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Geographic Service Areas

The Denver and Boulder, CO Law Firm of Hunziker Legal Services is happy to provide services to those clients that come from the United States of America and around the world by phone, fax, letter, and email

If you live in any of the following areas you may also come to my office to meet me in person, nearby locations in Colorado are: Denver, Boulder, Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont, Broomfield, Westminister, Arvada, Northglenn, Thornton, Centennial, Lakewood, Brighton, Berkley, Aurora, Columbine, Commerce City, Englewood, Federal Heights, Golden, Greenwood Village, Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Parker, Sheryl Wood, Welby, and Wheat Ridge..