Mandatory Deposit of Electronic-Only Books


Section 407 of the Copyright Act generally requires the owner of the copyright in a work published in the United States to deposit two copies with the Copyright Office for use by the Library of Congress. The Register of Copyrights is authorized to exempt certain classes of works from this mandatory deposit requirement. In a 2010 interim rule, the Office codified its longstanding practice of exempting all electronic works that are not available in a physical format. The 2010 interim rule created one exception to this general rule, providing that electronic-only serials published in the United States are subject to mandatory deposit if they are affirmatively demanded by the Office.


In 2018, the Office issued a proposed rule that would make the interim rule final and would make electronic-only books subject to mandatory deposit by way of the same demand process. An “electronic-only book” was defined as an electronic literary work published in one volume or a finite number of volumes in the United States and available only online, with some exclusions for specific types of works such as serials, audiobooks, websites, blogs, and emails.


In June 2020, the Office updated the 2018 proposed rule in response to public comments. The update clarifies the scope of material subject to demand and adjusts the provisions governing the use of technological protection measures on deposited material. The Office also has provided additional information on the Library’s digital collection strategy and information technology practices. The Office now invites public comment on the updated proposed rule. Written comments were due on July 29, 2020.