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NOTE: Copyright law refers to copies or phonorecords to differentiate copies of sound recordings from copies of other types of media. For purposes of this guide, the term copies should be interpreted to subsume phonorecords.
|Title 17, §407 requires that two copies or phonorecords of the work be deposited with
the Library of Congress as part of the copyright procedure. Section §407(c) of the
1976 Act and §13 of the 1947 Act (as amended 1956) allow for exceptions, and in practice
many rights-holders to bulky, fragile, expensive and near-one-of-a-kind works have secured
either an exemption to deposit or the return of the deposited material to the claimant
owing to the circumstances which would impose practical or financial hardships on
the depositor, where ... (i) less than five copies of the work have been published, or
(ii) the work has been published in a limited edition consisting of numbered copies, [or]
the monetary value of which would make the mandatory deposit of two copies of the best
edition of the work burdensome, unfair, or unreasonable.
Even before the 1956 amendment to the 1947 Act, movie companies would deposit a copy of a movie to fulfill the deposit requirements and then secure the return of the deposit. Motion picture copies were expensive to print and would have financial value for the several upcoming months when the production would be in general release. What follows is a Copyright Office document recording the dates that a particular motion picture was received, examined and returned.
|below: The letter from the claimant of the same motion picture as above. This letter precipitated the legwork within the Copyright Office which led to the return of the deposit, thereby freeing the prints so that they could be sent to theaters which rented the movie. (Note: Monogram Pictures had their studios on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles. The Washington, D.C. address was apparently a field office.) The partially-obscurred hand-lettering above and to the left of the signature E.J. Harman reads return to.|
|below: A different movie company, United Artists (which likewise made its movies in California), used the same form in making its own requests of the Copyright Office for return of deposited materials.|
|below: Yet another prominent maker of theatrical motion pictures, Columbia, used a different form letter in making their requests for return of deposited materials. Nonetheless, the crux was the same, and the signature at the bottom affirms that the Copyright Office acceded to the request.|
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© 2007,2008 David P. Hayes