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When One is Better Than Two: Simplifying Deposit Requirements

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The following is a guest post by Cindy Abramson, assistant general counsel.

The Copyright Office has been hard at work trying to find ways to decrease wait times for registration applications and to decrease burdens placed on applicants. We are excited to announce today that we have published a new rule that helps further both of these goals! As of today, applicants registering certain types of books and musical compositions will only need to deposit one copy instead of two. We anticipate that this will not only decrease registration wait times but will also save money and resources for authors, publishers, and musicians.

In the past, applicants would have to submit two copies of every book or musical composition as part of their registration application or as part of the mandatory deposit requirements. Some of these books can be quite large and may have multiple volumes. Once received by the Office these often large deposits have to be moved around to various sections of the Office, taking up both space and time. Reducing this in half will be a significant reduction and help speed the registration process along.

Image of one copy of a book
Only one copy required for most literary works

The rule only applies to certain types of published books, namely literary works published in one volume or a finite number of separate volumes. For example, if you are registering a 10 volume encyclopedia you only have to submit one copy of each volume instead of two. Serials, such as journals, are not affected by this rule. The rule also explicitly excludes legal publications, and two copies of those books will continue to be required for deposit with the Office. The reason for this is that these books are in high demand and the Library needs them as part of their collections. Additionally, if the Library decides that they need a second copy of any book, the Office maintains the right to request the additional copy through mandatory deposit.

The final rule also simplifies and rationalizes the deposit requirements for musical compositions published in print formats (i.e., as sheet music, musical scores or the like). The rule does not apply to compositions published only in phonorecords, or to unpublished musical compositions. The rule also clarifies that in cases where a musical composition was published in both print formats and phonorecords, the copyright owner should submit the print format of the work. The purpose of this amendment is to harmonize the deposit requirements for registration and mandatory deposit and to adhere to the Library’s preference for print formats rather than phonorecords of musical compositions.

It is important to note that nothing changes with respect to what the Office maintains in its records. The Library of Congress continues to have the opportunity to select works submitted to the Office to be included in its collection. And, as in the past, if the Library selects a published book or musical composition, then the Office does not keep a copy. If the Library does not select a work, then the Office will keep one copy in its storage for a period of time. This rule does not change or affect these procedures.

The Office is excited to share this new rule with the public and we will continue to seek out more ways to efficiently and effectively advance the registration process for our users. You can find more information about the new rule here.


  1. Fantastic article. Clear and concise. Thanks for demystifying and explaining what can sometimes be intimidating for those seeking copyright protection.

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