Mandatory Deposit of Works Published Only Online

On February 24, 2010, the Copyright Office adopted an interim regulation governing the mandatory deposit of serials published in the United States and available only online. In November 2020, a final rule was established, allowing for demand of books published only as electronic books and published on or after December 14, 2020. Other electronic formats will be added at later dates. These works are exempt from deposit until the Copyright Office issues a demand for deposit of such works. These demands are being sent in a phased process. By fulfilling demand requirements, publishers of works available only online will share in the mission of the Library of Congress to acquire, protect, and preserve works that support American innovation, knowledge, and creativity.

Electronic Mandatory Deposit Terms and Requirements
  • What is mandatory deposit?

    Under the mandatory deposit provision of copyright law (17 USC section 407), the owner of copyright or the exclusive right of publication in a work published in the United States must deposit within three months of publication the required number of copies of the best edition of the work with the U.S. Copyright Office for the use of the Library of Congress. For details, see Circular 7D, Mandatory Deposit of Copies or Phonorecords for the Library of Congress, and section 202.19 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

  • Does mandatory deposit apply to publications published only online?

    Yes. A final rule allows for the demand of serials available only online and published on or after February 24, 2010. Electronic books published only as e-books on or after December 14, 2020, may also be subject to mandatory deposit demands. The regulation establishes that online-only works are exempt from mandatory deposit until the Copyright Office issues a demand for deposit of such works. Publishers may also submit back issues.

  • Will my deposited serials be available to the public?

    Online serials submitted for mandatory deposit can be accessed on-site at the Library. Access to these deposited files is limited to two simultaneous users. If your serial is open access, it may be available to the public through the Library's online catalog. Additional content may also be available through aggregated collections and accessible according to the license agreement for that collection.

  • What is an SR number?

    For mandatory deposit purposes, the Service Request, or SR number, refers to a unique identifier assigned by the Copyright Office to a serial demanded under the mandatory deposit requirement of copyright law. The SR number is located on the upper right-hand corner of your Notice for Mandatory Deposit.

  • What is metadata? Why do I need to provide it?

    For the purpose of depositing online works, metadata is information describing the data content of a deposit. Such data helps classify, aggregate, and identify the file structure of the deposit. Some examples of bibliographic metadata to include with a deposit include title, publication pattern, and International Standard Number (ISSN or ISBN), and publication enumeration.

  • What is a presentation style sheet? Do I have to include one with my deposit submission?

    External style sheets help separate the presentation of a webpage from its content. Style sheets use language such as CSS or VSL to define the visual layout of the page. A style sheet is required for non-NLM DTD XML and HTML. You should provide a presentation style sheet with your deposit if one is needed to properly display your content as published.

Submission Guidelines
  • How do I deposit my files?

    There are several different options for submitting files to the Copyright Office. Files can be submitted via our web-based user interface, via SFTP file transfer, or via an approved third party depositor. For more detail about these three options, please contact the acquisitions specialist who issued the notice of demand for deposit. Contact details will be located in your demand packet.

  • What files types are acceptable for upload?

    Files in the best edition available should be sent to fulfill demand requirements.

    Content file types listed in order of preference are:
    1. XML-NLM DTD compliant [including JATS]
    2. XML-Other widely used DTD
    3. XML – Proprietary DTD with style sheet
    4. PDF/A
    5. PDF- Searchable
    6. PDF – non-searchable
    7. HTML/XHTML with style sheet

    Note: Any image or supplemental files referenced within xml or html files should be included with the deposit. The file names for supplemental material must match the names referenced in the xml or html file.

    Metadata, if available, should be sent and include the following:
    1. Title-level metadata: serial or journal title, ISSN, publisher, frequency, place of publication
    2. Article-level metadata as relevant or applicable: volumes(s), number(s), issue date(s), article title(s), article author(s), article identifier (DOI, etc.)
    3. With other descriptive metadata (e.g. subject heading(s), descriptor(s), abstract(s)).

    Content file types for books, listed in order of preference are:
    1. XML-BITS-complaint (NLM book DTD)
    2. XML-EPUB-complaint
    3. XML – other widely-used book DTD
    4. PDF/UA
    5. PDF/A
    6. PDF
    7. HTML with style sheet

    Note:All elements published as part of the work and offered for sale or distribution must be deposited. This includes associated external files and fonts integral to the work as published. All updates, supplements, releases, and supersessions published as part of the work must be submitted. Editions with the greatest number of unique features should be deposited.
    Metadata, if available, should be sent and include the following:
    2. Include title, creator, creation date, place of publication, publisher/producer/distributor, ISBN, contact information

    .EXE, .BAT, and other executable files are not acceptable for file upload. For a current list of other acceptable file types go to

  • What if I have a PDF for an entire issue and PDFs for each article? Which should I deposit?

    Each issue deposited should include a separate file for each article, if it exists. For publishers who publish an article at a time, the article files can be deposited when the issue is complete.

  • What if I have a PDF for the entire book and PDFs for each chapter? Which should I deposit?

    A file for the complete book is preferred to separate files for each book chapter.

  • How can I ensure my PDF files will render correctly?

    When sending PDF files, send the highest quality available with features such as searchable text, embedded fonts, lossless compression, and high resolution images. This includes document formats such as PDF/X.

  • Can I use file transfer protocol (ftp) to deposit my online serial? Is it available now?

    SFTP push technology is an acceptable means of submitting files to the Copyright Office in response to a mandatory demand notice. For instructions on using this process to deposit your online serial, please contact the individual named on the Notice for Mandatory Deposit you received from the Copyright Office.

  • Can I just give the Copyright Office a user name and password to retrieve the online serial directly from my website or server?

    No. The Copyright Office requires that deposits be delivered by the depositor using such methods as a secure file transfer protocol or the Library’s web interface. Contact your acquisitions specialist for further information and credentials.

  • I use a third-party provider to host my online serial. Can they deposit it with the Copyright Office for me?

    Yes. The Copyright Office will send the demand to the rights holder. It is the responsibility of the rights holder to contract with their provider to fulfill their mandatory deposit obligation for titles demanded, including subsequent issues. Upon request, the Copyright Office will send the mandatory deposit notice directly to the third-party provider. It is expected that the third-party provider will comply with the technical standards outlined by the Copyright Office.

  • Do I have to deposit if my serial is Open Access or Hybrid Open Access?

    Yes. If an online serial or book is published and copyrightable, it is subject to mandatory deposit even if it is available through Open Access or Hybrid Open Access, or published under a Creative Commons license. Upon receiving a mandatory deposit notice for an electronic title, the rights holder must deposit the demanded content with the Copyright Office by the deadline on the demand notice. In addition, the rights holder must send all serial issues published subsequent to the demand as long as the serial is published or until a notice is received stating that the Library no longer wants the title for its collections.

  • Do I have to deposit if the place of publication for my work is outside of the United States?

    Deposit requirements for online-only serials apply to works after they are published (or distributed) in the United States.

  • Can I deposit works not included on my mandatory deposit notice?

    At this time, the Copyright Office can accept only deposits of online serials for which a mandatory deposit demand has been issued. However, the Copyright Office may demand additional serials as they are wanted by the Library for the collections. If an additional title you publish is wanted, you will receive a mandatory deposit notice from the Copyright Office with a unique SR number.

  • I am publishing a new e-only serial. Should I send it to the Copyright Office?

    Please contact the Copyright Acquisitions Division at [email protected] if you are publishing a new title that is e-only or if a former print title is now being published in an electronic format only. If the Copyright Office opts to acquire your e-only title, details and instruction on how to deposit electronically will be provided to you.

  • Can I register the online serials I submit in response to a mandatory deposit notice?

    Yes. Copyright registration fulfills the mandatory deposit requirement, while also conferring the benefits associated with registering a work.

  • What if individual authors of articles retain rights to articles?

    Whoever has exclusive distribution rights to the collective work is required to fulfill mandatory deposit requirements.

  • What happens to my files after they've been deposited?

    Staff will review them to make sure that the complete copy as published has been received, after which the files will be stored on a secure Library of Congress server.

  • Will I receive notification or acknowledgement that my eDeposit submission was received?

    If you choose to deposit your serial via the web interface, you will receive an email confirmation that the files were successfully uploaded. At this time, there is no confirmation of receipt for files delivered via SFTP or through a third party.

  • Can I send back issues not included in the mandatory deposit notice?

    Yes. The Copyright Office welcomes back issues of a demanded title with the electronic deposit. Although deposit is not required for issues or articles published before February 24, 2010, the complete archive of an online serial greatly enhances the collections of the Library of Congress. Back issues can be sent in the same delivery with the demanded deposit submission. However, if bundling issues together will delay your meeting the date specified in the demand notice, please send back issues in a separate delivery, using the same SR number provided in the demand notice.

  • How do I deposit future issues?

    Subsequent issues should be deposited as published, using the same procedure used to send the initial demanded deposit. The Copyright Office does not assign a new SR number for each subsequent issue. Include the SR number provided with the initial demand when sending subsequent issues of the demanded title. The SR number is a unique identifier that alerts the Library's content transfer system that subsequent issues of an already demanded title have arrived for processing and handling.