Mandatory Deposit of Electronic-Only Books

The United States Copyright Office published a proposed rule that would revise its regulations to finalize a 2010 interim rule regarding mandatory deposit of electronic-only works, and to make electronic-only books published in the United States subject to the mandatory deposit requirements if they are affirmatively demanded by the Office.

Section 407 of the Copyright Act requires the mandatory deposit of all works published in the United States with the Copyright Office within three months of publication, for use by the Library of Congress. The Register of Copyrights is allowed to exclude certain classes of works from this requirement. In a 2010 interim rule, the Register codified its longstanding practice of excluding from mandatory deposit requirements all electronic works that are not available in a physical format. The 2010 interim rule created one exception to this general rule for electronic-only serials, which are subject to mandatory deposit, if they are published in the United States and if they are affirmatively demanded by the Office. On May 17, 2016, the Office published a Notice of Inquiry seeking public comment on potential regulatory changes that would make the interim rule final and would make electronic-only books and sound recordings subject to mandatory deposit requirements by way of the same demand process.

Under this proposed rule, electronic-only books would be subject to mandatory deposit if a written demand is issued by the Copyright Office. Additionally, this proposal would make the 2010 interim rule concerning electronic-only works final, and amend the rule governing public access to electronic works to encompass electronic serials and electronic books received via mandatory deposit. Finally, with this rule the Office proposes specific “best edition” criteria for electronic-only books, and proposes amendments to the best edition criteria for electronic-only serials, modeled on the Library’s Recommended Formats Statement. The proposed rule does not address mandatory deposit of electronic-only sound recordings.