Although under United States Copyright law, a work is copyrighted upon its creation, the owner of the copyright needs a registration in order to bring a lawsuit against a potential infringer.  This means that the copyright owner must file an application to register the copyright with the United States Copyright Office.  There are other times when a registration is required.  For example, if the Copyright owner is interested to stop the importation of infringing copies of the work at the United States Customs.

Unfortunately, the process of obtaining a copyright registration is lengthy.  For example, the average processing time for copyright applications filed electronically with no further correspondence is 7 months.  The average processing time for copyright claims filed by mail with no further correspondence is 9 months.  Processing time for copyright claims which require correspondence with the applicant averages 9 months for electronic claims and 16 months for mail claims.

Who Qualifies For Expedited Copyright Registration?

The Copyright Office recognizes three special circumstances which would require a faster time line for copyright registration: a pending litigation or prospective litigation; customs matters; or contract or publishing deadlines that necessitate the expedited issuance of a certificate.  Fortunately, the Copyright Office offers expedited processing of a copyright registration in the above examples under the process called “Special Handling.”

An applicant may request special handling of the application at the time of filing or at any time before the Copyright Office issues a final registration decision or certificate of recordation.  There is a non-refundable additional $800 government fee for the special handling request which is tacked on to the registration fee.

Special Handling Request

When filing the application to register a copyright, the applicant must specifically state the reason for its special handling request; i.e. pending or prospective litigation, customs matters, or contract or publishing deadlines.  If the reason for the request is due to litigation, the applicant should also state whether the litigation is pending or is prospective, whether the applicant is the plaintiff or defendant.

Once the Copyright Office approves a special handling claim, the expedited processing time is reduced to 5 business days.  The Copyright Office will then issue a registration within that shortened time frame.  If the Copyright Office finds the copyright application deficient or non-registerable, the Office will contact the applicant within 5 business days of the special handling request.

Need Help With Expedited Copyright Registration?

If you are looking for an easy online copyright registration process, or an online copyright registration on an expedited basis, please visit us at, and begin protecting your creations today.