Three items must be sent into the copyright office in order to register a copyright: (1)
an application form, (2) the registration fee (currently $30); and (3) two
complete copies of the work (one copy in the case of an unpublished work or in the case of
a published pictorial or graphic work in which an individual owns the copyright).
The Application Forms:
There are five types of application forms; four for the various categories of works and
one for renewals. They are identified as follows:
- Form VA: Works of the Visual Arts (including pictorial, graphic and sculptural
- Form TX: Nondramatic literary works (including books, articles, poetry, and other
nondramatic works consisting primarily of text);
- Form PA: Works of the performing arts (including musical and dramatic works,
pantomimes, choreographic works, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works);
- Form SR: Sound recordings (not the written music or lyrics-- rather, the actual
- Form RE: Renewal of copyright in works previously copyrighted under the earlier
Application forms and general information about registration can be obtained by writing
the Copyright Office at the below address:
Information Section, LM-401 Copyright Office Library of Congress Washington, D.C. 20559
The Copyright Office's Public Information number is (202) 707-3000, which is answered
via an interactive voice mail system. The Copyright Office's 24 hour hotline for
requesting registration forms is (202) 707-9100.
The Deposit Requirement:
Providing a specimen of the work for deposit with the Copyright Office is no longer a
prerequisite to filing a suit for copyright infringement for foreign Berne Convention
works. However, fines may be imposed on domestic registrants for failing to deposit a copy
of the work.
Special deposit requirements have been prescribed for three dimensional materials,
which must also be followed in cases where any dimension of the work exceeds 96 inches.
These special requirements may be utilized in lieu of the usual requirement of an actual
copy in the case of (1) an unpublished pictorial work; (2) a graphic work;
or, (3) where an individual author is the copyright owner as opposed to an
institutional owner, a published pictorial or graphic work; provided that the work has
either been published and sold, offered for sale in a limited edition of no more than 300
numbered copies, or fewer than five copies have been published.
The special deposit requirements are as follows: one complete set of identifying
materials consisting of photographs, transparencies, photostats, drawings or similar
two-dimensional reproductions or renderings of the work, in a form which is capable of
being visually perceived without the aid of a machine or device. When copyright
registration is applied for for pictorial or graphic works, the material submitted must be
at least 35 millimeters in size and if 3" x 3" or less, must be affixed to
cardboard, plastic or similar mounts. All other types of identifying material must not be
any larger than 9" x 12" (preferably 8" X 10") in size or less than
3" x 3". With an exception for transparencies, the image of the work must be at
least life size, and, in any event, clear enough to show the entire copyrightable content
of the work. Identifying material must indicate, either on the front, the back or on the
mount, the title of the work and an exact measurement of one or more dimensions of the
work. For published works, the copyright notice and its placement on the work must be
shown clearly on at least one piece of identifying material.
If for whatever reason, the deposit requirement of the copyright law is burdensome,
contact the Copyright Office or a copyright attorney for further information.