Mandatory Copyright Deposits: What You Don’t Know You Don’t Know

What Is a Mandatory Deposit?

With a few notable exceptions, in the United States it is mandatory for a copyright owner to deposit with the Library of Congress two copies of each and every work protected by copyright, whether registered or not, and “published” in the United States. These “deposit copies” are, by law, to be filed within three months of the first U.S. publication date. The failure to file these copies can result in receipt of a deposit demand from the Library of Congress to the copyright owner demanding copies, and the imposition of fines and additional expenses for not complying. These fines range from $250 plus the retail cost to purchase two copies of the work to $2,500 in the case of a copyright owner willfully refusing or failing to comply with a deposit demand.

What Constitutes a “Work Protected by Copyright”?

Copyright protects any original work of authorship that has been fixed in a tangible form. It does not protect intangible ideas, concepts, methods or the like; and it exists from the moment a work is created. It is not necessary to obtain a registration for or to use a copyright notice on a work in order for it to be protected by copyright. Copyright protects, for example, audiovisual works (e.g., movies and websites), musical works, literary works (e.g., novels, news articles, marketing or advertising materials, product instruction manuals, etc.), software code, artistic works, and architectural works.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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