FOR WORKS PUBLISHED IN THE UNITED STATES
Although a copyright registration is not required, the Copyright Act establishes a mandatory deposit requirement for works published in the United States (see definition of "publication," above). In general, the owner of copyright or the owner of the exclusive right of publication in the work has a legal obligation to deposit in the Copyright Office, within 3 months of publication in the United States, 2 copies (or in the case of sound recordings, 2 phonorecords) for the use of the Library of Congress. Failure to make the deposit can result in fines and other penalties but does not affect copyright protection.
Certain categories of works are exempt entirely from the mandatory deposit requirements, and the obligation is reduced for certain other categories. For further information about mandatory deposit, see Circular 7d.
For works published in the United States the Copyright Act contains a provision under which a single deposit can be made to satisfy both the deposit requirements for the Library and the registration requirements. In order to have this dual effect, the copies or phonorecords must be accompanied by the prescribed application and filing fee.
Special Deposit Requirements
Special deposit requirements exist for many types of work. In some instances, only one copy is required for published works, in other instances only identifying material is required, and in still other instances, the deposit requirement may be unique. The following are prominent examples of exceptions to the general deposit requirements:
If the work is a motion picture, the deposit requirement is one complete copy of the unpublished or published motion
picture and a separate written description of its contents, such as a continuity, press book, or synopsis.
If the work is a literary, dramatic or musical work published only on phonorecord, the deposit requirement is one
complete copy of the phonorecord.
If the work is an unpublished or published computer program, the deposit requirement is one visually perceptible copy in
source code of the first and last 25 pages of the program. For a program of fewer than 50 pages, the deposit is a copy
of the entire program. (For more information on computer program registration, including deposits for revised programs
and provisions for trade secrets, request Circular 61.)
If the work is in a CD-ROM format, the deposit requirement is one complete copy of the material, that is, the CD-ROM,
the operating software, and any manual(s) accompanying it. If the identical work is also available in print or hard copy
form, send one complete copy of the print version and one complete copy of the CD-ROM version.
For information about group registration of serials, request
In the case of works reproduced in three-dimensional copies, identifying material such as photographs or drawings is ordinarily required. Other examples of special deposit requirements (but by no means an exhaustive list) include many works of the visual arts, such as greeting cards, toys, fabric, oversized material (request Circular 40a); video games and other machine-readable audiovisual works (request Circular 61 and ML-387); automated databases (request Circular 65); and contributions to collective works.
If you are unsure of the deposit requirement for your work, write or call the Copyright Office and describe the work you wish to register.
A work may be registered in unpublished form as a "collection," with one application and one fee, under the following conditions:
The elements of the collection are assembled in an orderly
The combined elements bear a single title identifying the
collection as a whole;
The copyright claimant in all the elements and in the
collection as a whole is the same; and
All of the elements are by the same author, or, if they are
by different authors, at least one of the authors has
contributed copyrightable authorship to each element.
An unpublished collection is indexed in the "Catalog of Copyright
Entries" only under the collection title.