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

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1511 Mandatory Deposit


1511 Mandatory Deposit


As discussed above in Section 1502, the Copyright Act establishes two separate deposit requirements. Section 408 specifies the deposit requirements for registering a work with the U.S. Copyright Office, while Section 407 specifies the requirements for depositing a work with the Library of Congress.


Section 407 states that “the owner of copyright or of the exclusive right of publication in a work published in the United States shall deposit [with the U.S. Copyright Office], within three months after the date of such publication – ” two complete copies of the best edition” “for the use or disposition of the Library of Congress.” 17 U.S.C. § 407 (A) (1), (B). In the case of a sound recording published in the United States, Section 407 states that the copyright owner or the owner of the exclusive right of publication shall deposit “two complete phonorecords of the best edition, together with any printed or other visually perceptible material published with such phonorecords.” 17 U.S.C. § 407 (A) (2). This is known as the “mandatory deposit requirement.”


Submitting a published work for the use or disposition of the Library is not a condition of copyright protection. However, the Register of Copyrights may facilitate, demand, negotiate, or exempt the provision of copies or phonorecords for the Library of Congress at any time after a work has been published in the United States. If the Office issues a written demand and if required copies or phonorecords are not received within three months of receipt of the demand, the copyright owner or owner of the exclusive right of publication in that work may be subject to fines or other monetary liability. 17 U.S.C. § 407 (D).


In most cases, the owner of copyright or the exclusive right of publication may satisfy the mandatory deposit requirement by submitting an application to register the work, provided that the applicant submits two complete copies or two complete phonorecords of the best edition. Alternatively, the owner of copyright or the exclusive right of publication may submit the required number of copies or phonorecords without an application.


If the applicant registered a published work with identifying material instead of submitting the best edition, the Library of Congress may demand an appropriate number of copies of the best edition under certain circumstances.


Some categories of works are exempt from the mandatory deposit requirement, even if a work has been published. See H.R. REP. NO. 94-1476, at 150 (1976), reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. 5659, 5766 (“deposit of copies or phonorecords for the Library of Congress is mandatory, but exceptions can be made for material the Library neither needs nor wants”). For information concerning these exceptions, see Section 1511.3.


By contrast, some works – namely, transmission programs – are subject to mandatory deposit, regardless of whether the work is published or unpublished. For information concerning transmission programs, see Section 1511.5.


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