Help: Deposit Requirements

Literary Work Deposit Requirements

Generally, you must supply copies representing the entire work being registered.

Visual Arts Deposit Requirements

Generally, submit one complete copy of the work if unpublished, two complete copies of the best edition if the work was first published in the United States, or, for certain types of works, identifying material instead of actual copies.

Selecting individual items below will display deposit requirements. The chart should be viewed only as a basic guide. The items are only examples and are not meant to be restrictive.

Two-Dimensional Works

Advertisements (pictorial)

Artwork for bed, bath, and table linens or for wearing apparel (For example: heat transfers or decals already applied to T-shirts)

Blueprints, architectural drawings, mechanical drawings, diagrams 

Book jackets or record jackets

Commercial print published in newspaper or other periodical

Commercial print or label (For example: flyers, labels, brochures, or catalogs used in connection with the sale of goods or services) 

Contributions to collective works (photographs, drawings, cartoons, etc., published as part of a periodical or anthology)

Fabric, textile, wallpaper, carpeting, floor tile, wrapping paper, yard goods (If applied to a three-dimensional work, see below)

Fabric emblems or patches, decals or heat transfers (not applied to clothing), bumper stickers, campaign buttons

Greeting cards, picture postcards, stationery, business cards, calendars


Maps or cartographic material

Patterns, cross-stitch graphs, stitchery brochures, needlework and craft kits

Pictorial or graphic works (For example: artwork, drawings, illustrations, paintings)

Pictorial or graphic works fixed only in machine-readable form

Posters, photograph, prints, brochures, exhibition catalogs

“Limited edition” posters, prints, or etchings (published in quantities of fewer than 5 copies, or 300 or fewer numbered copies if individual author is owner of copyright)  

Oversize material (exceeding 96" in any dimension)

Three-Dimensional Works

Artwork or illustrations on 3-D objects (For example: artwork on plates, mugs)

Fabric or textile attached to or part of a 3-D object (such as furniture)


Globes, relief models, or relief maps


Pictorial matter and/or text on a box or container that can be flattened (contents of container are not claimed) 

Prints or labels inseparable from a three-dimensional object (for example: silk screen label on a bottle)

Sculptures, toys, dolls, molds, relief plaques, statues

Sculpture (for example: doll) in a box with copyrightable pictorial and/or textual material; claim in sculpture and artwork/text 

Oversize material (exceeding 96" in any dimension)

Architectural Works

Unconstructed Building

Constructed Building

Musical Compositions Deposit Requirements

Submit a deposit of the work being registered. The deposit requirement varies according to the type of work for which registration is sought. Deposits cannot be returned.

Unpublished Works

Deposit one complete copy (lead sheet or sheet music) or phonorecord (disk or tape). “Complete” means that the deposit includes everything that is to be covered by the registration.

Copies should be legible, and both words and music on a phonorecord (disk or tape) should be clear and audible. All deposits should bear the title of the work.

Copies of a group of works registered as a collection should be assembled in orderly form and fastened together or placed in a folder. The title of a collection should appear on copies and disk or tape.

Published Works

For a musical work first published in the United States on or after Jan. 1, 1978, the deposit generally is two complete copies of the best edition.

Only one deposit is required for musical works that are:

If first published in the United States before Jan. 1, 1978, the deposit is two complete copies of the best edition of the work as first published.

If first published outside the United States before March 1, 1989, the deposit is one complete copy or phonorecord of the work as first published.

For a musical work first published outside the United States on or after March 1, 1989, the deposit is either one complete copy or phonorecord of the work as first published or the best edition of the work.

For separate registration of a musical composition published only in a motion picture soundtrack, the deposit is:

  1. One copy of the motion picture, or
  2. Identifying material consisting of

Sound Recordings Deposit Requirements

To register a copyright claim in a sound recording, the deposit requirement is either one or two phonorecords. The number and format required depend upon several factors.

Deposits cannot be returned.

“Best Edition” Requirements

If the sound recording has been published in only one edition, send two phonorecords of that edition.

If it has been published in more than one edition, the “best edition” in descending order of suitability is: (1) a compact digital disk rather than a vinyl disk; (2) a vinyl disk rather than a tape; (3) an open-reel tape rather than a cartridge; and (4) a cartridge rather than a cassette.

Motion Pictures Deposit Requirements

Submit a copy and a description of the work being registered. The nature of the copy and description may vary, depending upon the factors indicated below.

For All Published Motion Pictures

  1. A separate description of the nature and general content of the work, for example, a shooting script, a synopsis, or a pressbook; and
  2. One complete copy of the work. A copy is complete if it is undamaged and free of splices and defects that would interfere with viewing the work.

For motion pictures first published in the U.S. :

One complete copy of the best edition.

For motion pictures first published abroad:

One complete copy as first published or one copy of the best edition.

For Unpublished Motion Pictures

  1. a separate description of the work and
  2. a copy of the work containing all the visual and aural elements covered by the registration. An alternative deposit option is available for unpublished motion pictures. See 37 CFR 202.21 (g)(1).

Requirements for Motion Pictures That Cannot Be Viewed by the Copyright Office Staff

The Examining Division does not have equipment to view motion pictures in certain formats, including 1-inch open reel videotapes, D-2 and other digital videocassettes, and 8mm videocassettes. If you send one of these formats, please include the credits in the separate written description. If the work was first published before March 1, 1989, the Copyright Office must examine the work for the required copyright notice. In this case, please send the best edition copy and a copy that the Examining Division can view, for example, a 1/2-inch VHS videocassette.

For information on deposit requirements for works published before Jan. 1, 1978, and for special exceptions to the normal deposit requirements, please see Circular 45, Copyright Registration for Motion Pictures Including Video Recordings.