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

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204.3 Deposit Copy(ies)

204.3 Deposit Copy(ies)

The term “deposit” is frequently misunderstood. It refers to the copy or copies of a work that are submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office. It does not refer to the filing fee that must be paid in order to register a work with the Office.

As a general rule, the applicant must submit a complete copy or copies of the work to register a claim to copyright. In certain cases, the U.S. Copyright Office may accept identifying material in lieu of a complete copy, or the Office may grant special relief from the deposit requirements. (For a definition and discussion of identifying material and special relief, see Chapter 1500, Sections 1506 and 1508.8.) As discussed above, the deposit copy(ies) for a published work also may satisfy the mandatory deposit requirement for certain works that are published in the United States.

If the applicant fails to submit a complete copy of the work, fails to submit sufficient identifying material, and/or fails to obtain special relief from the deposit requirements, the registration specialist may communicate with the applicant or may refuse registration. If the specialist asks the applicant to resubmit the deposit copy(ies) but does not receive the correct deposit within the specified time frame, the specialist will close the file. If the applicant wishes to resubmit the claim, the applicant must file a new application, new deposit copy(ies), and the correct filing fee. The effective date of registration for a new claim will be based on the date that the new submission is received by the Office.

In specific instances, the deposit copy(ies) may be submitted in digital or physical format. The deposit copy(ies) must conform to certain requirements depending on the type of work, the deposit requirements, and whether the work is published or unpublished. As a general rule, the deposit copy(ies) should be clear and should contain all the authorship that the applicant intends to register. An application submitted with an incomplete or unclear deposit copy(ies) may be delayed until the Office receives a complete and/or clear copy or may be refused. Delays due to incomplete and/or unclear deposit copy(ies) may affect the effective date of registration, which is discussed in Section 209 below.

Once the Office receives the registration materials, a registration specialist will examine the deposit copy(ies) to determine if the work is eligible for registration. The Office will not return the deposit copy(ies) or the identifying material to the applicant.

General information on the procedure for submitting the deposit copy(ies) in digital or physical format is set forth in Sections 204.3 (A) and 204.3 (B) below. For detailed information on the deposit requirements for registration and the mandatory deposit requirements, see Chapter 1500.

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