Compendium of U.S. Copyright Practices, 3rd Edition

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1502 Deposit for Registration Distinguished from Mandatory Deposit


1502 Deposit for Registration Distinguished from Mandatory Deposit


The U.S. Copyright Act provides for two separate sets of deposit requirements: deposits submitted in connection with registration applications and deposits submitted in accordance with the mandatory deposit provisions (or “legal deposit” provisions) of the law. The U.S. Copyright Office administers both sets of provisions.


Mandatory deposit is a statutory requirement for the benefit of the national collection of the Library of Congress. Section 407 of the Copyright Act provides that the owner of copyright or the owner of the exclusive right of publication in a work published in the United States must deposit two copies or phonorecords of the work within three months after publication. 17 U.S.C. § 407 (A).


As discussed below in Section 1511.3, the Register of Copyrights has the authority to adjust or exempt certain works from the deposit requirements, as appropriate given the needs or concerns of applicants and the public. 17 U.S.C. §§ 407 (C), 408 (C) (1).


Registration is not required as a condition for copyright protection. But when an applicant chooses to register an original work of authorship, the deposit requirements for that work are governed by Section 408 of the Copyright Act. The Register specifies by regulation the form of deposit that must accompany a copyright claim. These deposits are used to examine the work for copyrightable authorship, to verify the authorship claimed in the application, and to verify the facts stated in the application. Deposits may also be used for evidentiary purposes in litigation involving a copyrighted work. Additionally, these deposits may be selected by the Library of Congress for use in its collections. 17 U.S.C. § 704.


In most cases, a deposit submitted for purposes of satisfying the mandatory deposit requirement may be used to satisfy the deposit requirement for registration, provided that the applicant submits the prescribed application and filing fee and any additional identifying material that the regulations may require. See 17 U.S.C. § 408 (B).


For some classes of works, the deposit requirements for registration and mandatory deposit are not the same. In such cases, a separate submission of copies, phonorecords, or identifying material may be needed to register the work and to satisfy the mandatory deposit requirements. For example, mandatory deposit for a computer program requires two complete copies of the best edition, while registration may be accomplished with identifying material containing a selection of the source code for that work. (For a definition and discussion of the term “best edition,” see Section 1504.)


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