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A fee hike… now…

The email came in just yesterday: “Special Announcement about Fee Changes,” it said. “Effective March 20, the Copyright Office is changing fees for copyright registration and other services.”1

Now… don’t get The Legal Genealogist wrong: the Copyright Office really did need a fee hike; its fees for registering copyrighted materials have been the same for some time and it’s actually overdue for a fee increase. And the amounts are not unreasonable at all:

“This new fee schedule is the product of a process encompassing a comprehensive cost study, evaluation of the Office’s budget requirements, and consideration of over 160 public comments. It also reflects modifications to the Office’s earlier proposals based on public comment, including a reduction in certain proposed increases. While a number of fees, including the fee for standard registrations, have increased to permit the Office to more fully recoup its expenses, some fees have decreased, and others, such as the group application for photographs, remain the same.”2

But now? Seriously? It couldn’t wait a while for things to, maybe, settle down a little?


copyright fees

So… here’s the deal.

For electronic filers and basic registrations, the cost of recording copyright is going up very modestly, considering that it’s been years since the last hike: for a single work by a single author, the fee is going up from $35 to $45. For all other electronic filings, the fee is going up from $55 to $65. Paper filing of the most common copyright types goes from $85 to $125.3

The biggest hike is for those registering databases:

Registration of updates or revisions to a database that predominantly consists of non-photographic works goes up from $85 to $500.

Registration for a database that predominantly consists of photographs and updates and revisions thereto goes from $55 (electronic) or $65 (paper) to $250.

And there’s a whole slew of other fee hikes, for serials, newspapers, newsletters, and more. You can see the whole list at

And why do we as genealogists care?

Well, if you’re a society thinking about registering the copyright on that collection of newsletters, or that database of abstracted information, it’s going to cost more on Friday than it does today.

Just at the moment when there’s probably nobody available at the society to focus on this… and, perhaps, not even anybody around at the Copyright Office to process a new registration.


Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Seriously, Copyright Office?,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 18 Mar 2020).


  1. Email, “Fee Changes Effective March 20,” to JG Russell, 17 Mar 2020.
  2. Ibid.
  3. See generally “SCHEDULE OF FEES: New Fees Effective March 20, 2020,” PDF, ( : accessed 17 Mar 2020).
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