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Mandatory Deposit

What is mandatory deposit?

Mandatory deposit (17 U.S.C. section 407) requires the owner of copyright or of the exclusive right of distribution to deposit in the U.S. Copyright Office for the use of the Library of Congress two complete copies of the best edition within 3 months after a work is published. Copies of all works under copyright protection that have been published or distributed in the United States must be deposited with the Copyright Office within 3 months of the date of first publication. (See Copyright Office Circular 7d, Mandatory Deposit of Copies or Phonorecords for the Library of Congress, and the Deposit Regulation 202.19.) Electing not to register your copyright in the work with the Copyright Office does not exempt you from the mandatory deposit provision of the law.

We are a foreign publisher. Do we need to submit our publication to comply with the U.S. deposit requirement?

Yes. If you distribute your work in the United States, you are subject to the deposit requirements of the United States. These requirements apply to a work that is first published in a foreign country as soon as that work is distributed in the United States through the distribution of copies that are either imported or are part of an American edition. The deposit requirement is one copy.

What is the difference between mandatory deposit and copyright registration?

Mandatory deposit (17 U.S.C. section 407) requires the owner of copyright or the exclusive right of distribution to deposit in the Copyright Office for the use of the Library of Congress two complete copies of the best edition within 3 months after a work is published. Section 408 of the copyright law, for a fee, provides the option to formally register the work with the U.S. Copyright Office. This registration process provides a legal record of copyright ownership as well as additional legal benefits in cases of infringement. Optional registration fulfills mandatory deposit requirements.

Where do I send my published works to comply with mandatory deposit?

Send deposit copies to:

Library of Congress
Copyright Office-CAD 407
101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20559-6607

If I choose to register my copyright, should I use the same address that I use for mandatory deposit?

No. If you choose to register your work, file your application and pay the fee online with eCO, the Electronic Copyright Office. If you cannot file online, use Form CO. If you send a hard-copy deposit and file using eCO, include the shipping slip that is created when you fill out the application on your computer. If you file using Form CO, send the work, the completed application form, and the fee, and the shipping slip in one package. Use this address for both eCO registrations and Form CO registrations: Library of Congress U.S. Copyright Office 101 Independence Avenue SE Washington, DC 20559-**** To expedite the processing of your claim, use the address above with the zip code extension for your type of work:
6222 for literary work, 6211 for visual arts work, 6233 for performing arts work, 6238 for motion picture or other audiovisual work, 6237 for sound recording, 6226 for single serial issue

Is there an exception to mandatory deposits?

Yes. Under certain circumstances, special relief from deposit requirements may be granted. The grant of special relief is discretionary with the U.S. Copyright Office and will depend on a careful balance of the acquisition policies of the Library of Congress, the examining requirements of the Copyright Office (if registration is sought), and the hardship to the copyright owner.

Requests must set forth specific reasons why special relief should be granted and must be signed by or on behalf of the owner of copyright or the owner of the exclusive right of distribution in the work. They would be sent as follows:

Library of Congress
Copyright Office
Chief, Copyright Acquisitions Division
101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20559-6600
Fax: 202-707-4435


If registration is sought:

Library of Congress
Copyright Office-RPO
Associate Register for Registration and Recordation
101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20559-6200
Fax: 202-707-3698

If my publication does not have a copyright notice, do I still have to deposit?

Yes. On March 1, 1989, the qualification "with notice of copyright" was eliminated from the mandatory deposit provision (Public Law 100-568). As a result of this change, all works under copyright protection that are published in the United States on or after March 1, 1989, are subject to mandatory deposit whether published with or without a notice.

What is the difference between the mandatory deposit obligation and the Cataloging in Publication (CIP) obligation?

Mandatory deposit is a legal obligation (17 U.S.C. section 407) and applies to all U.S. and foreign publishers distributing their works in the United States. A CIP obligation is limited to those publishers who have entered a contractual agreement with the Library of Congress. In exchange for the Library providing preliminary cataloging information to the publisher for works submitted to the CIP program, the publisher agrees to provide a copy of the publication to the Library of Congress.

Will my Cataloging In Publication (CIP) copy fulfill my mandatory deposit obligation?

No. CIP is a separate program within the Library of Congress that requires participating publishers to submit one copy of published works. The CIP is in addition to the two copies required for mandatory deposit.

If I send deposit copies of a sample issue of my serial publication to the Register of Copyrights, have I fulfilled the deposit requirement with respect to my serial publication?

No. For copyright purposes each serial issue is considered a separate work. You must deposit two copies of each issue within three months after the date of publication. If you do not intend to register, you may find it convenient to add the address of the Register of Copyrights to your mailing list so that two copies are automatically sent to the Copyright Office each time an issue is published.

I have already deposited identifying material to register my computer software as described in Circular 61-Copyright Registration for Computer Programs. Why am I now being requested to send the actual software?

As described in Circular 61, the deposit requirement for registration is one copy of identifying portions of the computer program. However, to satisfy the mandatory deposit under section 407, a "complete copy" of the published work must be deposited. A complete copy is defined in the regulations as a copy that includes all components that make up the unit of publication, even if any of those units are in the public domain. So, if the published user guide is normally part of a package that contains other elements, then the mandatory deposit requirement requires the deposit of those other elements, too. For example, if the user guide is published as part of a package that contains a CD-ROM, an installation guide, and installation software, then each of these other elements must be deposited in addition to the user guide to fulfill the mandatory deposit requirement.

Newspapers on Microfilm

If the Library of Congress does not want to retain my newspaper in the microfilm collection, do I still need to submit a copy of the 35mm silver positive to apply for the copyright registration?
If the Library of Congress decides not to retain your microfilm in the newspaper microfilm collection, the Copyright Acquisitions Division (CAD) of the Copyright Office may exempt you from sending the microfilm. CAD will notify you if your newspaper is exempt. However, the Library reserves the right to reverse this decision. If the Library decides to retain your newspaper in the collection in the future, CAD will issue to your organization a request for the microfilm deposit.

If the Library of Congress does not want to add our newspaper to its collection, can we still register our copyright with the Copyright Office?

Yes. In this case, an optional deposit may accompany the application. This deposit should consist of (a) complete print copies of the first and last issues of the month; or (b) print copies of the first section of the first and last issues of the month; or (c) print copies of the first page of the first and last issues of the month. For more information about the optional deposit, you may contact the Copyright Literary Division at 202-707-8250.

What are the requirements for applying for the newspaper group registration?

A group of newspaper issues may be registered on Form G/DN only if all the following conditions are met. (1) The newspaper is a daily newspaper. (2) The submission includes all issue dates within the calendar month within the same year. (3) The submission includes a complete month's issues in microfilm form, unless specifically exempted. (4) Each issue essentially must be an all-new collective work. (5) The work must be a work made for hire. (6) The author and copyright claimant must be the same person or organization. (7) The application Form G/DN must be filed within three months after the last publication date included in the group.

How do I register my daily newspaper through group registration?

In a single package, send a completed and signed form G/DN, a deposit of a positive 35mm silver-halide microfilm that includes all issues within the calendar month, and a $80 filing fee to:

Library of Congress
Copyright Office-SE
101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20559-6226

Since copyright protection exists when the work is created, is it necessary to apply for copyright registration for our newspaper? What are the benefits of copyright registration?

Even though copyright protection is secured automatically upon creation, there are certain definite advantages to copyright registration. Registration establishes a public record of the copyright claim. Before an infringement suit may be filed in court, registration is necessary for works of U.S. origin. If made before or within five years of publication, registration establishes prima facie evidence in court of the validity of the copyright and of the facts stated in the certificate. If registration is made within three months after publication of the work or prior to an infringement of the work, statutory damages and attorney's fees will be available to the copyright owner in court actions. Also, registration allows the owner of the copyright to record the registration with the U.S. Customs Service for protection against importation of infringing copies.

Note: The Copyright Office offers introductory answers to frequently asked questions about copyright, registration, and services of the Office. Links throughout the answers will guide you to further information on our website or from other sources. For any other questions, please visit our Contact Us page.