All copyrighted works that are published in the United States are subject to the “mandatory deposit” provision of the copyright law. As a general rule, this provision requires that two complete copies of the “best edition” of a copyrightable work published in the United States be sent to the Copyright Office for the collections of the Library of Congress within three months of publication. The “best edition” of a work is “the edition, published in the United States at any time before the date of deposit, that the Library of Congress determines to be most suitable for its purposes.” The owner of copyright or of the exclusive right of publication may comply with this requirement either by submitting the best edition of the work when registering the work with the Office or by submitting the work without seeking a registration and solely for the purpose of fulfilling the mandatory deposit requirement. The mandatory deposit provision helps ensure that the Library of Congress obtains copies of every copyrightable work published in the United States for its collections or for exchange with or transfer to any other library.
For more information, see Mandatory Deposit of Copies or Phonorecords for the Library of Congress (Circular 7D) and Best Edition of Published Copyrighted Works for the Collections of the Library of Congress (Circular 7B).
- This circular is intended as an overview of the basic concepts of copyright. The authoritative source for U.S. copyright law is the Copyright Act, codified in Title 17 of the United States Code. Copyright Office regulations are codified in Title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Copyright Office practices and procedures are summarized in the third edition of the Compendium of U.S. Copyright Office Practices, cited as the Compendium. The copyright law, regulations, and the Compendium are available on the Copyright Office website at www.copyright.gov.
- The Copyright Act defines a “United States work” for the purposes of registration and civil infringement actions as (a) a published work that is first published in the United States; first published simultaneously in the United States and another treaty party or parties, whose law grants a term of copyright protection that is the same as or longer than the term provided in the United States; first published simultaneously in the United States and a foreign nation that is not a treaty party; or first published in a foreign nation that is not a treaty party, and all of the authors of the work are nationals, domiciliaries, or habitual residents of, or in the case of an audiovisual work legal entities with headquarters in, the United States; (b) an unpublished work where all the authors of the work are nationals, domiciliaries, or habitual residents of the United States, or in the case of an unpublished audiovisual work, all the authors are legal entities with headquarters in the United States; or (c) a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work incorporated in a building or structure that is located in the United States.
- A phonorecord is a material object in which sounds, other than those accompanying a motion picture or other audiovisual work, are fixed and from which the sounds can be perceived, reproduced,
or otherwise communicated either directly or with a machine. The technology for creating and using a phonorecord includes those now known or later developed.
- CBP began accepting online applications for recordation of unregistered copyrights through the Intellectual Property Rights Electronic Recordation System (IPRR). Each unregistered copyright recordation will be valid for a period of nine months, with a potential one-time ninety-day extension of time, while an application to register that copyright is pending with the Copyright Office. Upon registration, the copyright recordation will continue to receive the benefits of border enforcement from CBP.
- A “non-U.S. work” is any work that is not a United States work, as defined above.