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Graphic Artists Guild

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Copyright Registration Fees are Increasing March 20

On February 19, the Copyright Office announced that its new fee schedule will take effect on March 20th. The schedule includes almost across-the-board increases in all fees, including copyright registration fees. A notable exception is registration fees for a group of published photographs and a group of unpublished photographs. Those fees will remain unchanged. However, the fees which matter most to graphic artist are seeing increases of 18% (for a standard electronic registration) to 55% (for the registration of a group of unpublished works. While the increases are considerable, they are lower than originally proposed by the Copyright Office in 2018.

The fee increases for registrations most commonly used by graphics artists are:

  • Electronic filing for single author, one claimant, one work, not for hire: increase from $35 to $45 (+29%)
  • Electronic filing, all other claims (e.g., work for hire, a joint work, a derivative work, a collective work, or a compilation): increase from $55 to $65 (+18%)
  • Paper filing: increase from $85 to $125 (+47%)
  • Group of unpublished works (10 works other than photographs): increase from $55 to $85 (+55%)
  • Group of unpublished photographs (750): unchanged at $55
  • Group of published photographs (750): unchanged at $55

In 2018, the Copyright Office issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR), asking stakeholders to respond to proposed fee increases. That notice referred to a fee study conducted by Booz Allen, which analyzed costs incurred by the Copyright Office as well as the cost of needed modernization. Booz Allen recommended substantial fee increases. The Coalition of Visual Artists, of which the Guild is a member, issued a comprehensive response to the NOPR. Their response questioned the accuracy of the Booz Allen study, and contested the validity of the fee increase. They cited previous statements by the Copyright Office that the existing fee for the group registration options for photographs was adequate to cover the related costs.

The Graphic Artist Guild, joined by APA and ASCRL, submitted independent comments as well. In our comments, we pointed out that the reported income for illustrators stagnated over the previous seven years as copyright registration fees steadily rose. We also advocated for including works of visual arts in the group registration options available to photographers, rather than far more limited group registration option for works other than photographs. We echoed the Coalition in stating that modernization efforts should not be financed on the backs of individual creators, who are already disenfranchised from the copyright system.

In their new fee schedule announcement, the Copyright Office cited the Coalition’s comment letter in explaining why the fees for the group registration options for photographs are not changing. The Office pointed out that systems developed for those group registrations – the requirement that photographers submit a spreadsheet with the titles, file names, and publication date (if applicable) for each photo – has reduced the effort expended by the Office in examining those registrations. Graphic artists and other creators scored a much smaller victory: the fee increase for the electronic standard application and single application is $10 less than the Office’s original proposal.