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CostHelper > Small Business  > Copyright

Copyright Cost

How Much Does a Copyright Cost?

low costLow: Freeaverage costMedium: $45-$100high costHigh: $300-$400+
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Copyright protects the "authorship" or creative ownership of an original work that is fixed in some physical form, such as a book, manuscript, video, CD or other format. Dance steps cannot have copyright protection, but a movie of the dance does.

Typical costs:

  • In a sense, US copyright protection is free because anything created in the US after April 1, 1989 automatically has a legal copyright. It helps to add a copyright notice on your work ("Copyright YEAR by YOUR NAME" or ©YEAR by YOUR NAME), in case there's ever any question of ownership or to be sure others know not to use or reproduce the work without your legal permission. However, a work is legally considered protected and the product of its creator or creators even if it is not marked with a copyright notice.
  • To be sure your copyright is part of the public record or if you might need to defend your copyright in a court of law, you can register your copyright with the US Copyright Office[1] by filing an application, a nonrefundable fee of$45 and a nonreturnable copy of the work.
  • For a $100 nonrefundable fee, motion pictures, sound recordings, musical compositions, books, computer programs, and advertising or marketing photographs that are being prepared for commercial publication can be preregistered with the US Copyright Office[2] .
  • A copyright attorney may charge $250-$350 (including the $45 federal filing fee) to guide you through the registration process. You may need to consult a copyright lawyer ($100-$300 hourly rate) if someone wants to use your copyrighted work and you need a legal licensing agreement, or if you're involved in a lawsuit over a copyright violation.
  • There are online services providing help registering a copyright, but the forms and information are all easily available online[3] or by calling The US Copyright Office at (202) 707-9100 (not toll-free).
Related articles: Patent, Trademark, Incorporating a Business

What should be included:
  • Generally, copyright protection lasts for 70 years after the death of the author/creator; if the work is "made for hire," by employees as part of their jobs, the copyright is 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter. As a general rule anything published in or before 1923 can be copied or used without permission or penalty. Items published on the web are often protected by copyright and shouldn't be reused without permission.
  • The US Copyright Office[4] has links to an extensive list of copyright topics and details.
  • provides a detailed, one-site overview of copyright protection.
  • Names or phrases aren't protected by copyright law, but can be registered as a trademark. Inventions, ideas and processes can't be copyrighted; they can potentially be protected with a patent.
Additional costs:
  • If you need to amend a copyright claim or have other special services, the US Copyright office has a chart of other fees[5] ranging from $3 for copying a single slide to $685 for special claim services.
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Not sure Xlibris is correct.
Amount: $0.00
Posted by: Anne Richards in Florence, OR.Posted: November 19th, 2008 08:11PM
How Done: by phoneFirm: Xlibris
Today I was told by the phone solicitor that in order to copyright my self-published book and obtain a Library of Congress number I would have to pay over $700.00 but if I got the three payment package I would pay a little over $400.00 to be added to the cost of getting my book published. Was she correct? Is the major expense the registration? Would appreciate an answer as they have set a deadline on the half-price of publishing and would add the copyright and registration costs in a three-payment plan.
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