Q&A: Transitioning to PDF Newspaper Filing

In January 2018, the Copyright Office announced the final rule approving the transition from microfilm to PDF format for group newspaper registrations with the Copyright Office. These registrations will also satisfy the mandatory deposit requirement with the Library of Congress. Newspapers may continue to submit microfilm if they would like to do so, but microfilm is only voluntary. PDF is now the required format and filings must be submitted on a monthly basis at eco.copyright.gov. To help you navigate the new process, we’ve provided the following Q&A.

Q: The new rules are in effect as of March 1, 2018.  Do the new rules to apply to newspapers that were circulated prior to March 1?

A: Yes, all newspapers that are submitted for group registration as of March 1 must comply with the new rules.  So, to the meet the three-month filing deadline, newspapers circulated in January must be filed by March 31 in PDF, February newspapers by April 30, and so on. There is, however, significant leniency for what constitutes an “attempt” at filing the PDF so as to comply with the new rules and allow for microfilm (as a voluntary, back-up submission) to satisfy the group registration during the transition period.  The Copyright Office will notify filers if the PDF is non-compliant.

Q: Would the Copyright Office/Library consider extending these new rules to apply to March 1 papers (to be filed via PDF by May 31), rather than retroactively, so that there is additional time to comply with these new rules?

A: No, the rules will not be extended, but there is leniency for what constitutes an “attempt” at filing the PDF so as to comply with the new rules and allow for microfilm to satisfy the group registration during the transition period.

Q: Will there be an automated way to push PDF files through an FTP site like the pilot program, or will the individual uploads be the only option for the foreseeable future?

A: No, there will not be an automated FTP site.

Q: Do the new rules apply to mandatory deposits of newspapers (deposit only, not copyright registration), and will the new system/process allow for PDF submissions to the Library for deposit-only submissions?

A: No, the new rules do not apply to deposit-only submissions.  For publishers only submitting newspapers to satisfy the Library of Congress’s mandatory deposit requirement may continue to submit microfilm for the foreseeable future.  The new system will not allow for deposit-only submissions of PDF at this time.

Q: Can members use their print ISSN numbers for the PDF submissions?

A: Yes, the Office will accept an application if the publisher uses their print ISSN in the file name for the PDFs.

Q: What happens to newspapers that fail to submit PDFs and submit microfilm-only instead.  Will they be notified?

A: Under the new rule, applicants must send PDFs, but may also send microfilm in case the PDF is deficient. If we only get a deficient PDF and no microfilm, the applicant will receive a refusal. If we get only microfilm, an applicant will receive a refusal. The transition period allows the microfilm as a backup to a deficient PDF.

Q: The instructions state: “The metadata for each file should contain the publication date in the “dc:date” field, and the ISSN for the newspaper in the “dc:identifier” or “xmp: identifier” fields.”  Do publishers need to actually insert this into each PDF file or is the fact that it appears on the paper enough?

A: No, there is no metadata required.  Only the file name, as specified in the “help text.”

Q: May third-party vendors submit periodicals on behalf of publishers for the registration process, including form, payment, and upload of PDFs?

A:  Yes, the Copyright Office and Library rules do not prevent third-party vendors from submitting on behalf of publishers.

Q:  While filing microfilm in tandem with the PDFs, will publishers have to pay twice?

A: File the PDF through the online system, create the form, pay the fee, and then print out the SR Number (which is a proof of payment with a tracking number) and send a copy in with the microfilm—no new form, no new check.

Q:  Are current microfilm submissions that are being sent to the following address: Register of Copyright, Copyright Off Lm438c/Copyright Acq Div, 101 Independence Ave SE., Washington, DC, 20559-6600, going to this address for the Copyright Office registrations or for deposits? 

A: All microfilm submissions should be sent to the following address:
Library of Congress
U.S. Copyright Office
Attn: 407 Deposits
101 Independence Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20559
Microfilm sent to this location may be used for purposes of satisfying the mandatory deposit requirement under section 407.
Microfilm sent to this address may also be used for purposes of registration, in addition to uploading the required PDF files. If a publisher sends microfilm and uploads PDF files to the electronic system, and if there are deficiencies in any of the PDFs, the Copyright Office may, in its discretion, allow the microfilm to be used to cure those deficiencies. The microfilm must be submitted at the same time as the application and PDF files, and the publisher must attach a “shipping slip” to the package containing the microfilm. If the publisher fails to attach a shipping slip to the microfilm, the Office will not be able to connect it with the group registration application.
To create a shipping slip, publishers should complete the online application, pay the filing fee, and upload the PDF files. Next, they should select the “Create Shipping Slip” button at the bottom of the Case Summary screen, and then open the link and print the shipping slip. For guidance on how to create a shipping slip, consult the tutorial on the U.S. Copyright Office’s website.

Q: For newspapers that currently maintain a deposit account with the Copyright Office, which gets charged the monthly fee when the certificate is issued, are those the same accounts to be used in the new system? If so, where in the system can the account holders access them? If not, how do account holders close the account and get the balance back?

A: Yes, the filing fee may be charged to an existing deposit account. Alternatively, it may be paid by credit card, debit card, or with an electronic check.
The filing fee must be paid through the government website, www.pay.gov. To access this site, select “Add to Cart” on the Review Submission screen. Then select “Checkout” on the “My Cart” screen.
Once the payment has been made, you will receive an email confirming the receipt of the application and deposit. To complete the submission process, the publisher then must upload a PDF copy of each issue being registered.

Q: The U.S. Copyright Fee website lists fees that the publisher must pay ($55, $25 per issue or $80 for daily newspapers). What criteria determines what each publisher pays? Are these one-time fees, monthly or per issue?

A: The filing fee for a group registration of newspaper issues is $80 for each group (not each issue). Publishers must pay the $80 filing fee for each application that is submitted through the electronic registration system. When the publisher reaches the website, the system will automatically charge the correct amount to their preferred payment method (e.g. credit card, debit card, bank account or deposit account).

Q: If the Copyright Office permits tear sheets to satisfy registration requirements, must that be replaced with PDFs?

A: Individual tear sheets are not acceptable.  Publishers must submit a complete copy of each issue published in the month specified in the application.  Each issue must be contained in a separate PDF file with the pages arranged in reading order.


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