Copyrighting digital images

The Electronic Copyright Office

Written by Digicamhelp Editor

Register basic claims to copyright for literary, visual and performing arts works directly online at the eCO website. Fees are lower and processing time is faster.

US Copyright office websiteThere is good news for those who want to make basic claims to copyright their literary, visual and performing works of art.

The United States Copyright Office offers an online registration system known as the electronic Copyright Office (eCO),

The eCO is used to register basic claims to copyright for literary, visual and performing arts works including motion pictures, sound recordings and single serials. Data, image, audio, video, text, presentation and compressed files will be accepted electronically. For a full list of file types, visit this page.

60 minute upload time

The eCO system currently has a 60 minute upload time. Depending on your internet connection speed, the time limits the size of files that can be uploaded in one session.

The eCO system works with a number of browsers such as Internet Explorer, Netscape and Firefox. You need to check the eCO Frequently Asked Questions for information about specific versions, settings and proper configuration like disabling pop-up blockers and third party toolbars.

Basic copyright claims

Basic claims to copyright include:

  1. a single work,
  2. multiple unpublished works if they are by the same author(s) and owned by the same claimant,
  3. multiple published works if they are all first published together in the same publication on the same date and owned by the same claimant.

If users plan to submit a hard copy of the work being registered, they can file an application and make payment online. They will then be able to print out an eCO-generated shipping slip, which needs to be attached to the hardcopy deposit.

Benefits of electronic copyright submission

According to the eCO, the benefits of online submissions are:

  1. lower filing fee of $35 for a basic claim (for online filings only);
  2. fastest processing time;
  3. earlier effective date of registration;
  4. online status tracking;
  5. secure payment by credit or debit card, electronic check or Copyright Office deposit account;
  6. ability to upload certain categories of deposits directly into eCO as electronic files.

For complete and up-to-date information, visit the eCO.

Source: United States Copyright Office


  • This electronic copyright system is absolutely ridiculous. Infuriatingly difficult to use. It is as if they don’t want you to copyright your work. Unbelievable.

  • I have been working for five hours now to do a simple copyrite. I have been given the usual dysfunctional and error messages, having to restart my computer numerous
    times with the same pathetic results. When I did get on a few pages there were too many hysterical disclaimers and requests to use a new web browser and on and on. How
    pathetic is this from the US Gov. I’m exhausted so I guess I’ll pack it in and start again tomorrow. It’s a tricky, bloated program with incomprehensible instructions so
    they better not tell ME how simple it is. This is how the US does everything, lord help us.

  • I am trying to register my work. But I cannot seem to locate the registration page…I did not find it in eCO.. Can you enlighten me with a little more details..
    Thank you