(Pub. L. 94–553, title I, § 101,Oct. 19, 1976, 90 Stat. 2579; Pub. L. 100–568, § 8,Oct. 31, 1988, 102 Stat. 2859; Pub. L. 105–80, § 12(a)(11),Nov. 13, 1997, 111 Stat. 1535.)
Historical and Revision Notes
house report no. 94–1476
The provisions of sections 407 through 411 of the bill mark another departure from the present law. Under the 1909 statute, deposit of copies for the collections of the Library of Congress and deposit of copies for purposes of copyright registration have been treated as the same thing. The bill’s basic approach is to regard deposit and registration as separate though closely related: deposit of copies or phonorecords for the Library of Congress is mandatory, but exceptions can be made for material the Library neither needs nor wants; copyright registration is not generally mandatory, but is a condition of certain remedies for copyright infringement. Deposit for the Library of Congress can be, and in the bulk of cases undoubtedly will be, combined with copyright registration.
The basic requirement of the deposit provision, section
, is that within 3 months after a work has been published with notice of copyright in the United States, the “owner of copyright or of the exclusive right of publication” must deposit two copies or phonorecords of the work in the Copyright Office. The Register of Copyrights is authorized to exempt any category of material from the deposit requirements. Where the category is not exempted and deposit is not made, the Register may demand it; failure to comply would be penalized by a fine.
Under the present law deposits for the Library of Congress must be combined with copyright registration, and failure to comply with a formal demand for deposit and registration results in complete loss of copyright. Under section 407 of the bill, the deposit requirements can be satisfied without ever making registration, and subsection (a) makes clear that deposit “is not a condition of copyright protection.” A realistic fine, coupled with the increased inducements for voluntary registration and deposit under other sections of the bill, seems likely to produce a more effective deposit system than the present one. The bill’s approach will also avoid the danger that, under a divisible copyright, one copyright owner’s rights could be destroyed by another owner’s failure to deposit.
Although the basic deposit requirements are limited to works “published with notice of copyright in the United States,” they would become applicable as soon as a work first published abroad is published in this country through the distribution of copies or phonorecords that are either imported or are part of an American edition. With respect to all types or works other than sound recordings, the basic obligation is to deposit “two complete copies of the best edition”; the term “best edition,” as defined in section
, makes clear that the Library of Congress is entitled to receive copies of phonorecords from the edition it believes best suits its needs regardless of the quantity or quality of other U.S. editions that may also have been published before the time of deposit. Once the deposit requirements for a particular work have been satisfied under section
, however, the Library cannot claim deposit of future editions unless they represent newly copyrightable works under section
The deposit requirement for sound recordings includes “two complete phonorecords of the best edition” and any other visually-perceptible material published with the phonorecords. The reference here is to the text or pictorial matter appearing on record sleeves and album covers or embodied in separate leaflets or booklets included in a sleeve, album, or other container. The required deposit in the case of a sound recording would extend to the entire “package” and not just to the disk, tape, or other phonorecord included as part of it.
Deposits under section
, although made in the Copyright Office, are “for the use or disposition of the Library of Congress.” Thus, the fundamental criteria governing regulations issued under section
, which allows exemptions from the deposit requirements for certain categories of works, would be the needs and wants of the Library. The purpose of this provision is to make the deposit requirements as flexible as possible, so that there will be no obligation to make deposits where it serves no purpose, so that only one copy or phonorecord may be deposited where two are not needed, and so that reasonable adjustments can be made to meet practical needs in special cases. The regulations, in establishing special categories for these purposes, would necessarily balance the value of the copies or phonorecords to the collections of the Library of Congress against the burdens and costs to the copyright owner of providing them.
The Committee adopted an amendment to subsection (c) ofsection
, aimed at meeting the concerns expressed by representatives of various artists’ groups concerning the deposit of expensive art works and graphics published in limited editions. Under the present law, optional deposit of photographs is permitted for various classes of works, but not for fine prints, and this has resulted in many artists choosing to forfeit copyright protection rather than bear the expense of depositing “two copies of the best edition.” To avoid this unfair result, the last sentence of subsection (c) would require the Register to issue regulations under which such works would either be exempted entirely from the mandatory deposit or would be subject to an appropriate alternative form of deposit.
If, within three months after the Register of Copyrights has made a formal demand for deposit in accordance with section
, the person on whom the demand was made has not complied, that person becomes liable to a fine up to $250 for each work, plus the “total retail price of the copies or phonorecords demanded.” If no retail price has been fixed, clause (2) of subsection (d) establishes the additional amount as “the reasonable cost to the Library of Congress of acquiring them.” Thus, where the copies or phonorecords are not available for sale through normal trade channels—as would be true of many motion picture films, video tapes, and computer tapes, for example—the item of cost to be included in the fine would be equal to the basic expense of duplicating the copies or phonorecords plus a reasonable amount representing what it would have cost the Library to obtain them under its normal acquisitions procedures, if they had been available.
There have been cases under the present law in which the mandatory deposit provisions have been deliberately and repeatedly ignored, presumably on the assumption that the Library is unlikely to enforce them. In addition to the penalties provided in the current bill, the last clause of subsection (d) would add a fine of $2,500 for willful or repeated failure or refusal to deposit upon demand.
The Committee also amended section
[this section] by adding a new subsection (e), with conforming amendments of sections
. These amendments are intended to provide a basis for the Library of Congress to acquire, as a part of the copyright deposit system, copies or recordings of non-syndicated radio and television programs, without imposing any hardships on broadcasters. Under subsection (e) the Library is authorized to tape programs off the air in all cases and may “demand” that the broadcaster supply the Library with a copy or phonorecord of a particular program. However, this “demand” authority is extremely limited: (1) The broadcaster is not required to retain any recording of a program after it has been transmitted unless a demand has already been received; (2) the demand would cover only a particular program; “blanket” demands would not be permitted; (3) the broadcaster would have the option of supplying the demand by gift, by loan for purposes of reproduction, or by sale at cost; and (4) the penalty for willful failure or refusal to comply with a demand is limited to the cost of reproducing and supplying the copy or phonorecord in question.
1997—Subsec. (d)(2). Pub. L. 105–80
substituted “cost to the Library of Congress” for “cost of the Library of Congress”.
1988—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 100–568
struck out “with notice of copyright” before “in the United States”.
Effective Date of 1988 Amendment
Amendment by Pub. L. 100–568
effective Mar. 1, 1989, with any cause of action arising under this title before such date being governed by provisions in effect when cause of action arose, see section 13 ofPub. L. 100–568
, set out as a note under section
of this title.
Deposits and Registrations Made After December 31, 1977, in Response to Demand Under Predecessor Demand and Penalty Provisions
Pub. L. 94–553
, title I, § 110,Oct. 19, 1976, 90 Stat. 2600
, provided that: “The demand and penalty provisions of section
14 of title
as it existed on December 31, 1977, apply to any work in which copyright has been secured by publication with notice of copyright on or before that date, but any deposit and registration made after that date in response to a demand under that section shall be made in accordance with the provisions of title 17 as amended by the first section of this Act.”