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You are here: Home  Copyright Law U.S. Copyright Office Mail Problem

U.S. Copyright Office Mail Problem

Delivery of Mail to U.S. Copyright Office

For security reasons, all U.S. Postal Service and private carrier mail is being screened off-site prior to arrival at the Copyright Office.  This screening process can add 3 to 5 days to the delivery time for all mail to the Copyright Office.

U.S. Postal Service mail delivery to the Copyright Office was suspended between October 17, 2001, and March 4, 2002 (see below for the Copyright Office's previous explanation about the suspension), due to concerns about anthrax.  This held mail was delivered in mid-2002 and has now been processed by the Copyright Office.  However, as a result of clearing this backlog of held mail, the processing of subsequent mail has been delayed.  We are working to process this mail as quickly as possible (Read about interim regulations on mail disruption.)

If you are submitting a Special Handling request, please use the special-handling address listed in Circular 10.

Submission of Works for Mandatory Deposit

If you received a mandatory notice from the Copyright Acquisitions Division requiring deposit within 90 days of receipt of the notice, please note that delays in the mail will be taken into account in enforcing the 90-day requirement.

Prior Copyright Office Notice About Suspended Mail Delivery

U.S. Postal Service (USPS) mail delivery to the Copyright Office was halted October 17, 2001, due to concerns about anthrax. The first USPS mail since then was delivered on March 4, 2002.  Only in late April  of 2002 did the Office start receiving, on a daily basis, significant amounts of held mail.  This mail is being delivered in no particular order.  In other words, the oldest mail is not necessarily arriving any sooner than recent mail.  Copyright Office staff are working to process this recently received mail as quickly as possible, but it could be several months before all of this mail is processed. 

Private carrier express shipments generally are arriving without delay.  While not endorsing any particular carrier, the Copyright Office is continuing to encourage the use of such private carriers.  Examples of carriers include Airborne Express, DHL Worldwide Express, Federal Express, and United Parcel Service, among others.  For more information relating to the mail disruption, please read below.

Why is the mail being delayed?

Concerns about anthrax in U.S. Postal Service facilities in the District of Columbia have caused severe disruptions of postal service to the Copyright Office, and safety measures are being implemented including the possibility of irradiating incoming letters and packages.

When did disruption to mail delivery begin?

The disruption began October 17, 2001.

When will mail delivery resume?

On March 4 the Copyright Office received its first delivery of U.S. Postal Service mail since October 17. This mail, much of which was irradiated prior to its delivery to the Office, has a mixture of postmarks dated October 2001 up to the present. Initially, the amounts were small, but now the Office is receiving large amounts of backlogged mail, much more than can be processed on a daily basis.

What effect has the irradiation had on the mail?

Among this small amount of mail received so far, some pieces are in good shape, and some have problems. The latter includes brittle, discolored applications, damaged deposits, and materials fused together.

Will the Office contact me if my mail has some of these problem?

Yes, but it may be several months before you hear from the Office. It may be many months before the Office actually receives all the mail that has been posted since mid-October. The Office normally receives over 600,000 pieces of mail a year. Yet for 4 months the Office received no U.S. Postal Service mail at all. It will take a lot of time to process the mail once it is received because of the problems noted above.

Will the Office contact me if my mail has some of these problem?

Yes, but it may be several months before you hear from the Office. It may be the end of September 2002 before the Office actually processes all the mail that has been posted since mid-October 2001.

What will happen to my effective date of registration?

Normally, the effective date of registration is the day the Copyright Office actually receives all three elements:

  • a properly completed application form,
  • the appropriate filing fee, and
  • a deposit of the work being registered.

However, due to the lengthy delays in mail delivery, special measures are being taken for this delayed mail only. The Copyright Office will determine the receipt date based on the postmark date of the envelope or packaging, as follows:

Condition of postmark
Receipt Date
First-class mail, discernable postmark seven days after the postmark
Priority mail, discernable postmark three days after the postmark
Express mail, discernable postmark one day after the postmark
All classes, exact date unreadable, but month discernable last date of that month, for example, October 31 for October
All classes, postmark date not discernable or not present actual date of receipt in the Copyright Office

On December 4, the Register of Copyrights issued interim regulations dealing with the impact of the disruption in the mail delivery. Please read more about the interim regulations if you have concerns regarding the impact on the effective date of registration that resulted from the disruption to mail delivery.

I have an urgent need to deliver something to the Copyright Office.  What should I do?

We advise you to have it hand-delivered to the Copyright Office. A member of the public may carry it personally through the front door of the Madison Building at 101 Independence Avenue, S.E., Washington, D.C. during normal business hours.

Currently, if you use a commercial carrier (such as Federal Express, Airborne Express, DHL Worldwide Express, or United Parcel Service) the items will be delivered to the Copyright Office in the normal time frame. Due to the delay in the delivery of the mail, use of the U.S. Postal Service is not advisable if you have an urgent need to deliver something to the Copyright Office. We will post updates here when there are changes in the delivery of the U.S. Postal Service mail. Please check back periodically.

What if I mailed Special Handling requests that have not been received?

If you submitted Special Handling requests through regular mail during this period, you can consider sending them again through a private carrier or coming to the Copyright Office in person with your request. If you do resubmit a Special Handling request, you should tell us that it is a duplicate of a request already submitted and approximately when it was mailed.

Will my deposit of a cassette tape, video, or CD be damaged by U.S. Postal Service irradiation?

The Library is working with the U.S. Postal Service on this issue and is making every attempt to avoid damage to deposits by irradiation. We do not know if your deposit will be damaged. If we discover that your deposit has been damaged, you will be notified to submit a replacement copy.

What if I received a mandatory notice from the Copyright Acquisitions Division requiring deposit within 90 days of receipt of the notice?

Delays in the mail will be taken into account in enforcing the 90-day requirement. To avoid undue delays and additional correspondence from the Copyright Office, you may consider sending your copies through a private or commercial carrier.

How can I stay informed about updates to this situation?

Call (202) 707-3000 for a recorded message or to speak with a Copyright Office Information Specialist.

 

This page was last modified on May 23, 2010.

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