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

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1509.1 Deposit Requirements for Literary Works

1509.1 Deposit Requirements for Literary Works

A literary work is a nondramatic work that explains, describes, or narrates a particular subject, theme, or idea through the use of narrative, descriptive, or explanatory text, rather than dialog or dramatic action. Generally, nondramatic literary works are intended to be read; they are not intended to be performed before an audience.

Examples of nondramatic literary works include the following types of works:

• Fiction

• Nonfiction

• Poetry

• Directories

• Catalogs

• Textbooks

• Reference works

• Advertising copy

• Book jackets

• Instructional works

• Compilations of information

• Computer programs

• Videogames

• Databases

• Serials

See 37 C.F.R. § 202.3 (B) (1) (I).

To register an unpublished literary work, the applicant generally should submit one complete copy or phonorecord of the work. See 37 C.F.R. § 202.20 (C) (1) (I).

To register a literary work that was first published in the United States on or after January 1, 1978, the applicant generally should submit two complete copies or phonorecords of the best edition of the work. See id. § 202.20 (C) (1)(iii).

As discussed in Section 1504.2, the criteria used to identify the best edition for a literary work are listed in the Best Edition Statement, which is set forth in Appendix B to Part 202 of the Office’s regulations. It is also posted on the Office’s website in Best Edition of Published Copyrighted Works for the Collections of the Library of Congress (Circular 7b).

To register a literary work published in both electronic and hard copy formats, the applicant should submit complete copies of the work in the hard copy format. If the work was published solely in electronic format, the applicant may submit digital file(s) containing a complete copy of the work, provided that the requirements set forth in Section 1507.2 have been met.

There are exceptions to these rules for certain types of literary works. The deposit requirements for these types of works are discussed in Sections 1509.1 (A) through 1509.1(K). The deposit requirements for foreign literary works are discussed in Sections 1509.1(L) and 1509.1(M).

Section 1509.1(N) contains a series of charts that summarize the deposit requirements for these types of works. For detailed information on the copyrightability and registration of literary works, see Chapter 700.

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