If your business discovered that its revenue covered only 70% of its costs, it would be time for a re-examination of operations, both in terms of revenues and costs. The Copyright Office has issued some rule changes affecting both.
According to the U.S. Copyright Office’s notice in the February 19, 2020 Federal Register (85 Fed. Reg. 9374, 9375), historically, the fees collected by the Copyright Office covered only 60% of its costs, and, more recently, only 70% of its costs. It has announced a new fee schedule, which includes many higher fees, some lower or unchanged fees, and some new fees. The new fee schedule goes into effect on Friday, March 20, 2020.
The fee familiar to most – the fee to apply for copyright registration for a written, visual, or musical work –will increase from $55 to $65 for an electronic application for a “work for hire.” For applicants who file the most common types of applications via paper, the fee will increase from $85 to $125.
The Copyright Office has also decreased a few fees. For example, with respect to supplemental registrations, the fee for electronic filings will decrease from $130 to $100 (the existing fee for paper filings will increase from $130 to $150).
There are some new fees. There is a new fee for voluntary cancellation of a registration, which will be $150. There is also a new fee for a litigation statement, in the amount of $100 (more on the topic of litigation in the next section). There are also new fees for electronic deposits ($150) and for physical deposits ($200).
Some fees remain unchanged. The fee for expedited handling (called a “special handling fee for a claim” by the Copyright Office) remains unchanged at $800. Of particular interest to readers who have registered their web sites for copyright protection and who have elected to use the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s (DMCA) “safe harbor” for notice of infringement claims by designating an agent to receive those claims, the fee for recordation of a designated agent remains unchanged from the current rate of $6. (More on DMCA below.)
For those who maintain a deposit account in order to pay fees to the Copyright Office, make sure you pay with a check that’s good. The fee for a replenishment check that is dishonored (returned for insufficient funds) will increase from $100 to $500.
The notice also includes proposed changes to several other fees.
New Technologies for Litigation Notices
Under Section 508 of the Copyright Act, whenever there is a lawsuit under Title 17 (the Copyright Act), the clerk of the relevant federal court must notify the Copyright Office and include the names and addresses of the parties, and the title, author and registration of number of each work involved. In addition, within one month of any final order or judgment, the clerk must send a copy of the order or judgement and any written opinion to the Copyright Office.
According to the Copyright Office’s notice in the February 25, 2020 Federal Register, the Copyright Office receives thousands of these notices each year. As of May 26, 2020, these notices may be sent via email with the attachment in PDF format.
New Technologies for DMCA Designated Agent Address Waivers
The Copyright Office is also permitting service providers (website owners) to take advantage of email, by permitting them to request a waiver from the requirement that their DMCA designation of agent include a street address for the service provider. As of February 27, the service provider may send a waiver request to use a P.O. Box rather than a street address via email to the Copyright Office.
The requirements for a waiver remain the same: the waiver must include the service provider’s name, the P.O. Box, and a detailed statement and explanation of the specific threat(s) to the individual’s personal safety or security; and an email address for responses from the Copyright Office. The Register of Copyrights must make a determination that the circumstances warrant a waiver of the street address requirement. There is no fee for the waiver.