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.)

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
Attn: 407 Deposits
101 Independence Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20559-6600

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, or you may use a paper form. 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 a paper form, 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 paper-form 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:

Associate Register of Copyrights and
Director of Registration Policy and Practice
U.S. Copyright Office
P.O. Box 70400
Washington, DC 20024-0440

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. You must e-mail the Copyright Office’s Copyright Acquisitions Division at [email protected], and provide the following information: a) the name of publisher, and for correspondence purposes, a contact name, email address, telephone number, and mailing address; b) the title of the serial; c) the ISSN number for the serial title [if any]; d) the enumeration (Volume, Issue, Date of Publication, etc.) of the first issue you will deposit. The Copyright Acquisitions Division will then contact you and let you know if you are required to deposit, with instructions on how to do so.

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 users 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.