Legal deposit

From New World Encyclopedia

Legal deposit is a legal requirement that a person or organization submit copies of their publications to a repository. The requirement was originally limited to books and journals, but with the advance of technology many countries amended the law to include voice recordings, movies, maps, database, broadcasting such as television and radio programs, and websites. Any publication other than archive records are subject to legal deposit. Legal requirement, however, varies according to country.

In some countries, submitting copies is a pre-requirement for receiving copyright protection. The number of copies varies and can range from one to 19 (in Poland). Typically, the national library is one of the repositories of these copies. In some countries, there is also a legal deposit requirement placed on the government, and it is required to send copies of documents to publicly accessible libraries.

While laws are often established and limited within the boundary of the nation state, electronic publications can go beyond the boundaries. Because of the rapid expansion of online publications, legal deposit and copyright laws are encountering a number of legal, technical, and political challenges.


In ancient history, kings of Alexandria required all visitors who held books to deposit them to the Library of Alexandria. Copies were made and books were returned (often the original was kept at the Library and the copy was returned) to visitors. This may be an example of legal deposit in antiquity. Similar practices may be found at various regions of the world.

In modern history, King Franqois I of France issued the "Ordonnance de Montpellier" in 1537, which required all books deposited to his royal library prior to book sales. The decree was abolished during the French Revolution and reinstated in 1793 for copyrights protection purpose. In Belgium, legal deposit was established in the late sixteenth century and abolished in 1886. During the seventeenth century, the legal deposit was instated in countries such as Germany and Great Britain.[1]

Legal deposit was originally established for collection development of royal libraries and censorship. During the eighteenth century, however, legal deposit became closely tied with copyright. The Great Britain Copyright Act of 1709 was the first copyright law. The copyright law was established in the United States in 1790 and in France in 1793.[1] In the twentieth century, many countries established legal deposit as well as copyright law.

The legal deposit system was established in relation to copyright law. Published materials are usually deposited to the national libraries of each country.

Due to increasing publication in electronic forms, many countries are trying to revise legal deposit in order to include electronic publications including books and periodicals, database, audio-visual materials, and others. The scope, method, and objects are complex issues legal communities are facing today.

Objects of legal deposit

UNESCO published Guidelines for Legal Deposit Legislation in 1981. The guideline was made based upon researches in legal deposit in various countries.

Objects of legal deposit are generally distinguished from records for archives. Archival records are not intended for giving publicly access or making it for public display, and they are usually neither published nor made in multiple copies.

Almost all items other than archive records are subject to legal deposit. It includes all print material such as books, periodicals, music scores, brochures, pamphlets, maps; audio-visual material such as films, videos, music; broadcast material such as television and radio programs; online sources such as database, websites. The format include print, online, microform, CDs, and DVDs. Other items, which are subject to copyright law, can be objects of legal deposit, which includes computer programs, pantomimes, stereographic works.

Legal deposit by country


In Australia, section 201 of Copyright Act 1968[2] and other state Acts requires that a copy of every book published in Australia be deposited with the National Library of Australia, the State Library for each state and certain other libraries such as Parliamentary libraries and University libraries.


In the Republic of Ireland, the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 specifies that one copy of every book published is to be delivered to the National Library of Ireland, the Library of Trinity College, Dublin , the library of the University of Limerick, the library of Dublin City University, and the British Library. Four copies are to be delivered to the National University of Ireland for distribution to its constituent universities. Further, on demand in writing within twelve months of publication a copy is to be delivered to the Bodleian Library, Cambridge University Library, the National Library of Scotland, and the National Library of Wales.


In Israel, "The Books Law 2000 (5761)" requires two copies of each publication to be sent to the National Library of Israel. At their request, the library of the Knesset and the Israel State Archive are entitled to receive one copy each.[3]

The government authorities are required by the "Freedom of information act, 1999" to send an annual report of their actions to the public library of every town with 5,000 people or more.


In Monaco, four copies of locally produced books, computer software, and media must be deposited in the Bibliothèque Louis Notari. If fewer than 100 copies were produced only two copies are required.[4]


Since 1780, the Republican Library has been entitled to a copy of all works published in Poland. In modern times the issue is regulated by a Decree of the Minister of Culture and Arts of March 6, 1997. The National Library of Poland and the Jagiellonian Library receive two copies of all publications, one of which is to be stored indefinitely. In addition to that, there are 15 other libraries to receive legal deposits to be stored for no less than 50 years: Maria Curie-Skłodowska University Library, University of Łódź Library, Nicolaus Copernicus University Library, Adam Mickiewicz University Library, Warsaw University Library, University of Wrocław Library, Silesian Library, City of Warsaw Library, Pomeranian Library in Szczecin, University of Gdańsk Library, Catholic University of Lublin Library, University of Opole Library, and Podlachian Library in Białystok. The National Film Library (Filmoteka Narodowa) is to receive all film productions, while the Sejm Library receives a copy of all legal documents.


In Singapore, the National Library Board Act requires all publishers in Singapore to deposit two copies of every publication to the National Library Board at their own expense within four weeks from the publication date.


Since 1661, the Swedish Royal Library has been entitled to a copy of all works published in Sweden.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 restates the Copyright Act 1911, that one copy of every book published there must be sent to the national library (the British Library); five other libraries (Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford, Cambridge University Library, National Library of Scotland, the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, and the National Library of Wales) are entitled to request a free copy within one year of publication.

United States

In the United States, any copyrighted work that is published must be submitted in two copies to the United States Copyright Office at the Library of Congress. This mandatory deposit is not required to possess copyright of unpublished works, but a copyright registration can give an author enhanced remedies in case of a copyright violation.[5] The Library of Congress does not retain all works.

A legal requirement does rest on the U.S. government. Over 1,250 Federal depository libraries must receive a copy of all of the publications of the Government Printing Office.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Jules Larivière, Guidelines for legal deposit legislation. Retrieved October 14, 2008.
  2., COPYRIGHT ACT 1968 - SECT 201. Retrieved October 14, 2008.
  3. National Library of Israel, Legal Deposit Department. Retrieved October 14, 2008.
  4. Open Document, Ordonnance Souveraine n° 816 du 21 novembre 2006 portant application de la loi n° 1.313 du 29 juin 2006 sur le dépôt légal. Retrieved October 14, 2008.
  5. United States Copyright Office, Copyright Basics Retrieved September 18, 2015.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Davinson, Donald Edward. Academic and Legal Deposit Libraries. London: C. Bingley, 1965.
  • Great Britain. Legal Deposit Advisory Panel. London: Dept. for Culture, Media and Sport, 2005.
  • Jasion, Jan T. The International Guide to Legal Deposit. Aldershot, Hants, England: Ashgate, 1991. ISBN 9780566058066.
  • Library of Congress. Deposit Requirements for Registration of Claims to Copyright in Visual Arts Material. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Copyright Office, 2004.
  • Larivière, Jules. Guidelines for legal deposit legislation. UNESCO. Retrieved October 14, 2008.
  • Library of Congress. Mandatory Deposit of Copies or Phonorecords for the Library of Congress. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, Copyright Office, 2003.
  • National Library of New Zealand. Legal Deposit Code of Practice. Wellington, N.Z.: National Library of New Zealand, 2006. ISBN 9780477101127.
  • Seadle, Michael. "Copyright in the Networked World: Digital Legal Deposit." Library Hi Tech 19 (3): 299-303.

External links

All links retrieved October 25, 2022.


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