How to Register You Copyrights Digitally

Have you filed your copyrights for all the art you've created this year? Now you can file your images digitally online at
You can also search for copyrights at  The current fees are listed  Most copyrights are $35 and some include "collections" you can do as a group.

Kate's tips:

  • Keep this tech support number handy: 202-707-3002.
  • Have the Tutorial open on your screen while you go through the application process, otherwise it's easy to get sidetracked and go down the wrong road, especially when a lot of their examples are oriented towards musicians, video producers.
  • There is a hour time limit for downloading, so it's best to have your art ready before you get on the site. Make copies of your art files, reduce their file sizes and put them all in one folder on the desktop. That way, they are ready to download and easy to find. I reduced each image down to 100-500K range.
  • Consider compressing all your files into one zip file and just downloading that one file.
  • Is this worth all the hassle? In the end, If you have a lot of art, then yes. But if you are only submitting a few items, then it will be faster filling out the paperwork by hand. For example, online, it may take you ten minutes just to decipher the dozen restrictions for the obscure and unnecessary password requirements, such as:
    "A password must not include words that can be found in any dictionary, whether English or any language"

Have any tips of your own? Did you have a different experience? Leave them in the comments below or write to me directly and I'll add them on this post.

Filing Online:
Where to file:
Lower filing fee of $35
Online status tracking

Before using the service, read
eCO FAQs, or eCO Tutorial (PowerPoint) eCO Tutorial (PDF).
For recently added features, see eCO Updates

Articles on Copyrights

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How to Register You Copyrights Digitally

Artist Protects Copyright Through Twitter

The 10 Key Points That Must Be In Every Licensing Agreement

Protecting Your Designs with Watermark Tools

Photoshop Tip: How to create a customized signature brush

Protecting Your Art: Interview with Alyson B. Stanfield

How to protect your assets in a licensing agreement

Free Booklets from the Copyright Office

PDF Copyright BasicsPDF Registering a Copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office
PDF Make Sure Your Application Will Be Acceptable
PDF Cartoons and Comic Strips
PDF Have a Question About Copyright Registration?
PDF Make Sure Your Application Will Be Acceptable
PDF Publications on Copyright
PDF Copyright Notice

Legal Books for Artists

The Copyright Zone: A Legal Guide For Photographers and Artists In The Digital Age If you license or publish images, this guide is as indispensable as your camera. It provides specific information on the legal rights of photographers, illustrators, artists, covering intellectual property, copyright, and business concerns in an easy-to-read, accessible manner. The Copyright Zone, Second Edition covers: what is and isn’t copyrightable, copyright registration, fair use, model releases, contracts and invoices, pricing and negotiation, and much more. 

Legal Guide for the Visual Artist This book provides legal guidance for any visual artist involved with creative work. Topics covered: developments in copyright, artists in artist-gallery relationships, First Amendment protections for graffiti art and the sale of art in public spaces, cases dealing with art and privacy, model contract for Web site design. The book also covers copyrights, moral rights, contracts, licensing, sales, special risks and protections for art and artists, book publishing, video and multimedia works, leases, taxation, estate planning, museums, collecting, grants, and how to find the best professional advisers and attorneys. In addition, the book teaches strategies for negotiation, gives information to help with further action, contains many sample legal forms and contracts, and shows how to locate artists' groups and Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts organizations. 


Patricia C Vener said...

This is going to be very useful once I start doing some licensing of my art.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting this Kate! I copyrighted a piece many years ago when it was only snail mail, but was not sure how to go about it in the digital age. Your info was extremely helpful. Have a blessed day!

Fantastic Toys said...

Considering filing an expedited copyright cost $780 for an IP case, $35 is a bargain.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this information. I'm preparing to do the same thing and I wondered if the copyright office has a minimum dpi requirement for the images that are downloaded for copyright protection. Sounds like low res images are fine.
Thanks again!

Gail Daley said...

boy you aren't kidding! I gave up because of the restrictions for the obscure and unnecessary password requirements, such as:
"A password must not include words that can be found in any dictionary, whether English or any language"
Why can't they just randomly assign letters and numbers when you sign in?