Quick Summary

How Much Does A Copyright Lawyer Cost?

How Much Does A Copyright Lawyer Cost?

Copyright Attorney Costs Typically Break Down Into The 3 Following Categories:

1) Copyright Registration ($200-$400)

2) Copyright Licensing ($200-$1,000)

3) Suing Infringers and Defending Against Lawsuits ($3,000-$10,000)

You can hire a copyright attorney for just one of these categories, or all of them.


How Much Does A Copyright Lawyer Cost?

6 min read time

Well, here’s a pesky response you’ll get from every lawyer: iT dEpeNDs!! The problem is, while that’s true for virtually everything, it is especially true when it comes to legal work. So, what does IT depend ON?


Below I've outlined three services typically provided by copyright attorneys and what those will cost.


1) Copyright Registration


With most legal matters, there are two kinds of fees:

1) Attorney Fees

Attorney Fees are the fees you pay for your attorney’s time and labor, and

2) Government Fees

Government fees are the fees you pay the government for filings, registrations, etc.

When it comes to copyright registration, the government fees range from $45 to $500 depending on what you’re registering. You can find more information about fees on the US Copyright Office website.


The attorney’s fees for copyright registration will usually be based on the amount of time the attorney has to spend registering the copyright. While many will charge flat fees, the price is likely based on an hourly rate. Most hourly attorneys will still be able to give you an anticipated amount of time the attorney will spend on the matter. The amount of time may vary depending on what the attorney has to do to register your copyright. This can include determining what kind of registration you need, getting specimens, preparing the application, obtaining answers from you for certain questions, and so forth.


All that said, I would expect the majority of copyright attorneys to have an hourly rate somewhere in the range of $150-$300. If you’re in a major metropolitan area (LA, NYC, etc.), it’ll be closer to $500 per hour. Smart and efficient attorneys will offload some of the work to their paralegal, and paralegal time costs anywhere from $50-$150 per hour, again depending on the region.


For the most basic copyright registration (one author, one work, not a work for hire), a reasonable flat fee would be on the order of $200-$400, including all attorney and government fees.


2) Copyright Licensing


This kind of service is, essentially, a contract-drafting service. An experienced copyright attorney will have a slew of templates they use to draft licensing agreements for a variety of arrangements. However, they will likely need to spend at least a little time tailoring your licensing agreement to your particular circumstances and for the terms you have agreed to.


Depending on complexity, I would expect a reasonable licensing agreement to cost anywhere from $200 to $1,000, assuming something like a $200/hr rate for the attorney’s time, and assuming the attorney has a wealth of experience and templates. In some cases, a really experienced attorney may spend an hour on your licensing agreement, and their paralegal will do the bulk of the menial work like inputting parties into the template, updating terms, etc. The attorney may only review to make sure it fits your circumstances.


Again, keep in mind this applies only to the typical situation. If you have a more complex arrangement, such as a cross-licensing deal, or terms that aren’t typically employed in copyright licenses, then the attorney will have to spend more time, and it will cost you more money.


3) Suing Infringers and Defending Against Lawsuits


More so than with other matters, litigation will be billed out at an hourly rate. The attorney will require a “retainer,” which is somewhat like a down-payment. However, the retainer doesn’t just go into the attorney’s bank account; rather, the retainer goes into a trust account that is regulated by the state bar to ensure clients’ funds are used appropriately. The attorney can only transfer funds from the trust account to their own account when the attorney incurs fees related to your legal matter, such as by drafting the complaint/response, filing the complaint/response, serving notice on the opposing party, and so forth.


Again depending on the complexity of the matter, it would not be unheard of for an attorney to spend 50-100 hours per month on suing someone for you or defending against a lawsuit. They need to draft or respond to the cease and desist, negotiate with opposing counsel, draft the complaint/response, file motions, perform discovery (e.g., obtain documents, take depositions, etc.), appear in court, and constantly meet with opposing counsel. There will be some ebb and flow depending on the schedule for the suit, delays, requests for extension by the opposing party, and so forth, but that range seems fairly reasonable for a simple suit with two parties.


I would expect the retainer to be in the range of $3,000 - $10,000, again depending on region and complexity. Be aware that your attorney will charge against this retainer and may ask for additional funds as litigation proceeds. It would not be unheard of for you to spend $50,000 to file or respond to a complaint and settle your suit before it goes to trial. Going through a full trial can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.


More so than with other matters, litigation will be billed out at an hourly rate. The attorney will require a “retainer,” which is somewhat like a down-payment. However, the retainer doesn’t just go into the attorney’s bank account; rather, the retainer goes into a trust account that is regulated by the state bar to ensure clients’ funds are used appropriately. The attorney can only transfer funds from the trust account to their own account when the attorney incurs fees related to your legal matter, such as by drafting the complaint/response, filing the complaint/response, serving notice on the opposing party, and so forth.


Again depending on the complexity of the matter, it would not be unheard of for an attorney to spend 50-100 hours per month on suing someone for you or defending against a lawsuit. They need to draft or respond to the cease and desist, negotiate with opposing counsel, draft the complaint/response, file motions, perform discovery (e.g., obtain documents, take depositions, etc.), appear in court, and constantly meet with opposing counsel. There will be some ebb and flow depending on the schedule for the suit, delays, requests for extension by the opposing party, and so forth, but that range seems fairly reasonable for a simple suit with two parties.


I would expect the retainer to be in the range of $3,000 - $10,000, again depending on region and complexity. Be aware that your attorney will charge against this retainer and may ask for additional funds as litigation proceeds. It would not be unheard of for you to spend $50,000 to file or respond to a complaint and settle your suit before it goes to trial. Going through a full trial can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Tl;dr: It all depends on complexity. Get a flat-fee arrangement where possible, and an estimate of the amount of time the attorney will spend on the matter if not. A simple copyright registration will cost $200-$400. A simple licensing agreement will cost $200-$1,000. Litigation can cost tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars. Expect the retainer to be in the range of $3,000-$10,000.

It all depends on complexity. Get a flat-fee arrangement where possible, and an estimate of the amount of time the attorney will spend on the matter if not. A simple copyright registration will cost $200-$400. A simple licensing agreement will cost $200-$1,000. Litigation can cost tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars. Expect the retainer to be in the range of $3,000-$10,000.

Conclusion

How Much Does A Copyright Lawyer Cost?

How Much Does A Copyright Lawyer Cost?

Copyright Attorney Costs Typically Break Down Into The 3 Following Categories:

1) Copyright Registration ($200-$400)

2) Copyright Licensing ($200-$1,000)

3) Suing Infringers and Defending Against Lawsuits ($3,000-$10,000)

You can hire a copyright attorney for just one of these categories, or all of them.


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