U.S. Copyright Office Receives Mail Damaged By Irradiation

Posted on March 26, 2002

The U.S. Copyright Office received what it called "a small amount of mail" on March 4. The Copyright Office also reported that some of the mail it received was damaged by the irradiation process. This was the first mail the Copyright Office has received since October 17, when delivery was halted because of the anthrax mail attacks that killed five people and infected 13 others.

The Copyright Office said the mail it received had been irradiated, a procedure implemented by USPS to kill the anthrax bacteria. There have been some complaints in Washington, D.C. that irradiated mail has caused skin irritations and many complaints that irradiated mail has physically damaged mail. The Office reported that from the small amount of mail it has received some has been in good shape, but other pieces of mail have been damaged including brittle, discolored applications, damaged deposits, and materials fused together.

The Office said it will be receiving more mail daily, although the amount coming in is only a small percentage of what has been held. The Office also reported that the mail it receives will not arrive in any particular order. Even though mail is being received, the Office said it may be a long time before it receives all the late mail and several months before it is caught up. The Office normally receives over 600,000 pieces of mail a year and did not receive mail for 4 1/2 months.

The Office said it will inform people if there are problems with any of their filings, but it may be several months before people hear from them. The Office has laid out a procedure for handling the delayed mail on its website. The Copyright Office also posts updates on its website and is maintaining a FAQ for those with questions.

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