Eligibility for Media Mail Prices
This Customer Support Ruling discusses the eligibility
of computer-readable media at the Media Mail prices.
Manual (DMM) 473.2.2i provides that computer-readable
media containing prerecorded information and guides or scripts prepared solely for
use with such media may be mailed at Media Mail prices.
Media Mail, or “book rate,” as it was formerly known,
was initially designed in 1938 to provide lower postal prices for the mailing of
books. From the beginning of Media Mail, the policy behind this classification has
been to encourage the flow of educational materials through the mail. As technology
developed and the means of disseminating information changed, Congress expanded
the Media Mail classification gradually to include such material as films.
While video games may be read on computers, unlike books
or films eligible for Media Mail prices, which predominantly further educational
or informational goals, games, including board games and games in an electronic
format, are used primarily for entertainment and they do not serve the same purpose
as books, films, or other qualifying Media Mail.
In 1984, in creating the computer-readable media classification, the then Postal
Rate Commission (PRC) stated “a review of the historical background of the special
fourth-class (Media Mail) mail subclass demonstrates that the purpose of this favored
subclass is to promote ‘educational, cultural, scientific, and informational values’
(39 U.S.C. sub-section 3622(b)(8)) and indicates that at intermittent points in
time, this subclass has been enlarged to include technologically newer methods of
disseminating information. The Postal Service’s proposed changes continue this process
by recognizing that computer-readable media …contain information similar to those
already eligible to be mailed at special fourth-class rates and further the same
In conclusion, video games, whether on CD-ROM, diskettes,
or similar software, regardless of form, or playable systems including computers,
do not meet the standards for Media Mail. In addition, storage devices such as “portable
hard drives,” "thumb drives," "flash drives," "jump-drives,"
and "USB drives” for use with computers are also not eligible for Media Mail
prices. Qualifying computer-readable media may contain no advertising except when
provided for by standard, e.g. incidental announcements of other books with books
in a computer-readable format.
*See also DMM 173.3.2i and 373.2.2i