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Copyright Search Cost

Updated: October 31, 2023
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What does a copyright search cost? You may ask this question if you need to find out whether your intellectual property is authentic. Let’s explore this question and review some general information about copyright searches and their implications.

How Much Does a Copyright Search Cost?

A copyright search is used when a person wants to ensure that the art they want to create is original and not a duplicate of someone else’s intellectual property. Copyright protection exists upon creation of an original work but it’s important to keep in mind copyright laws vary by jurisdiction.

Many artists will go one step further and register their work to establish extra copyright protection.

The majority of copyright searches are conducted using the database provided by the Library for Congress Copyright Office. The database is a public record and is available online to everyone. This database includes information about all registered copyrights, like who owns the work and whether it is available for public use.

Copyrights are necessary because they provide an artist with exclusive rights to the work they have created. Anything an artist creates, like a painting, song, or poem, is considered intellectual property. Therefore, the copyright allows the original artists to protect their work.

Copyrights protect original work from:

  • Reproduction
  • Display
  • Performance of the Work
  • Distribution

Copyright searches are an important step in the creative process. If you create a work of art that is too similar to a copyrighted work, you could face legal backlash like a lawsuit. A thorough copyright search must be completed to ensure you are free from liability.

Copyright searches can be complicated and very time-consuming. Sifting through hundreds of pages of search results is not uncommon – especially if you are unfamiliar with the search program and how to narrow your results.

For this reason, many people who need to conduct a copyright search choose to hire an attorney for help. A lawyer with experience conducting copyright searches will do the hard work for you and help identify existing copyrighted works.

Based on ContractsCounsel’s marketplace data, the average cost of a copyright search is $350.00 across all states.

How Do I Run a Copyright Search?

Running a copyright search can be complicated and confusing, but it is possible to do with some patience. First, you need to know what you’re looking for, where to look, and how to find it. Most searches start at the database on the Library for Congress Copyright Office website.

Follow these steps to run a copyright search:

  1. Go to the Copyright website at and find the option to search copyright records on the homepage.
  2. Click the link on the homepage that says, “Search our Copyright Public Records Catalog online here.”
  3. For a basic search, you will type your search in the empty field that says, “search for.”
  4. After typing in your search, you need to choose a method for the search. A list of methods will appear from a dropdown list.
  5. Click the command “run search” to reveal a list of results. You can choose how many results will show on the page and how the results are sorted.

If you have attempted to conduct a search on your own, you will see that searching for a simple or vague word or phrase can quickly generate over 10,000 results. Knowing the right way to search and how to refine your results is the key to conducting an accurate search.

Copyright Search Projects

Checking for Copyrighted Names

It is possible to run a search for the name of a copyrighted piece of work. This can be done through a basic search on the Copyright Public Records Catalog online by selecting “Name” from the “search by” dropdown list.

According to the Supreme Court, however, actual names cannot be copyrighted, so there is no need to check for them. Furthermore, copyrighting an original work must be a creative or tangible form of expression. Therefore, the Supreme Court does not classify names in this protected category.

Some other examples of works that seem creative but aren’t protected by copyright laws include:

  • Titles
  • Phrases
  • Slogans
  • Symbols and designs

The creator must apply for a registered trademark, not a copyright, to protect these works.

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Who Needs a Copyright Search?

A copyright search should be conducted by anyone who plans to create a tangible piece of work and wants to be sure that they are not duplicating work already in existence. This can apply to:

  • Artists
  • Musicians
  • Writers
  • Any other person who creates a fixed piece of work

Copyright protection is established as soon as the creative work comes to fruition. The original artist has exclusive rights to their work if the work is duplicated, distributed, or altered.

Conducting a copyright search will help you avoid duplicating copyrighted work.

Copyright Search Costs

The cost of a copyright search will vary depending on how complicated and time-consuming the search is. Lawyers will typically charge for any time spent working on a project, including consultations and communications with the client.

ContractsCounsel’s marketplace data shows the average copyright search costs are $350.00 across all states.

How Do Lawyers Charge for Copyright Searches

Hourly Rates for Copyright Searches

When a lawyer agrees to conduct a copyright search for a client, they will likely bill their client using an hourly rate fee agreement. Using this fee arrangement, the lawyer will provide the client with a set hourly rate and then keep track of the number of hours a project takes.

This arrangement ensures that a lawyer is fairly compensated for all their time working on a client’s case. Some projects like copyright searches can take longer than expected. In these cases, hourly rates protect the attorney.

ContractsCounsel’s marketplace data shows that the average hourly rate for an intellectual property lawyer ranges from $150 - $300 per hour.

Flat Fee Rates for Copyright Searches

Flat fee rate structures are becoming more popular when a lawyer is hired for a specific project. Instead of logging hours, the attorney will estimate how long the entire task will take and create a flat fee rate to charge their client.

For clients, flat fee rate structures are beneficial because they know exactly how much their legal fees are from the project's beginning. For lawyers, however, a flat rate fee can be tricky. For example, they won’t be compensated for the additional work if a project takes longer than expected.

ContractsCounsel’s marketplace data shows the average flat fee rate for a copyright search is $350.00.

Get Help with a Copyright Search

Do you need help with a copyright search project? If so, post a project in ContractsCounsel’s marketplace to receive flat fee bids from corporate lawyers to handle your project. All lawyers on the ContractsCounsel’s platform are vetted by our team to make sure you are provided with top tier service.

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