Legal deposit

Legal deposit is a legal requirement that a person or group submit copies of their publications to a repository, usually a library. The requirement is mostly limited to books and periodicals. 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.

In the year 2000, UNESCO published recommendations for the construction of legal deposit legislation.[1]

Legal deposit by country


In Australia, section 201 of Copyright Act 1968[2] and other state Acts requires that a copy of all printed materials published in Australia be deposited with the National Library of Australia. State laws require books and a wide range of other materials published in each state to be deposited in the applicable State Library. New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia also require books published in those states to be deposited in the library of the state Parliament. New South Wales law also requires books published in that state to be deposited in the University of Sydney Library.[3]


Legal deposit legislation in Brazil ("Depósito legal"), federal laws number 10994[4] and 12192,[5] requires that one copy of every book, music or periodical published in the country be sent to the National Library of Brazil (known as Biblioteca Nacional, Biblioteca do Rio de Janeiro, or Fundação Biblioteca Nacional), located in the city of Rio de Janeiro.


In Canada, the Library and Archives of Canada Act (2004)[6] specifies that up to two copies of any published material must be deposited with Library and Archives Canada. Materials deposited in the archives are catalogued; the catalogs are available as part of the Library and Archives Canada website. The province of Quebec also requires deposit of two copies of any document be deposited to Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec within 7 days of its publication.[7]


In China, Article 22 of Regulations on the Administration of Publication (2001)[8] states that three copies of each printed publication should be submitted to the National Library of China, one copy to the Archives Library of Chinese Publications and one copy to the administrative department for publication under the State Council.[9]


In Denmark, legal deposit has been required since 1697,[10] and is handled by the Royal Danish Library (for most written works) and by the State and University Library (for newspapers, audio, and video); two copies must be supplied.[11] This also includes works in digital format, and the publisher may be required to supply the necessary passwords.[12]

Faroe Islands

Legal deposit of four copies of every publication is required to the National Library of the Faroe Islands under a law passed on July 16, 1952.[13]


In Finland, The Royal Academy of Turku was given right to receive a copy of all works published in Sweden in 1707. After Finland had been ceded by Sweden to Russia, this privilege was confirmed in 1809. In 1820, all Russian print presses began to send legal deposit copies to Finland.

Gaining its independence in 1917, Finland retained the principles of legal deposit. Helsinki University Library (the university had been transferred from Turku in 1827) remained the main deposit library. Additional copies began to be deposited in other libraries in Turku, Jyväskylä, and Viipuri (later Oulu). In 1984, the obligation to deposit was expanded to audiovisual materials; responsibility to preserve films was given to the National Audiovisual Archive.

A new act on depositing and preservation of cultural materials was given in 2007. The new act covers two new important types of cultural materials. The National Audiovisual Archive collects and preserves broadcast materials, whereas the National Library of Finland (Helsinki University Library renamed) takes care of capturing and preserving Web contents.[14]


In France, legal deposit was initiated by the Ordonnance de Montpellier of 1537, under which a copy of any published book had to be delivered to the king's library, for conservation purposes. During the following centuries, legal deposit was sometimes used to facilitate censorship and the obligation was thus removed briefly during the French Revolution, under the argument that it violated freedom of speech. The main depository is the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Legal deposit is extremely developed and concerns not only printed material but also multimedia archives and even some web pages.

France is also unique in the world in funding the Osmothèque, a legal deposit scent and fragrance archive to preserve perfume formulas.


In Germany, the law about the German National Library[15] requires that two copies of every printed media and some nonprinted media be sent to the German National Library in either Frankfurt am Main or Leipzig (depending on the publishers location). Additionally, each Bundesland requires one or two copies to be sent to their respective legal deposit (usually state university libraries).

Hong Kong

Under the Books Registration Ordinance, 1976,[16] the publisher of a new book shall, within one month after the book is published, printed, produced or otherwise made in Hong Kong, deliver to the Secretary for Broadcasting, Culture and Sport free of charge five copies of the book.

A person who contravenes such requirement shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of HK$2000.

The secretary is required to send one copy to the City Hall Library, which was the main library of the previous Urban Council, (or such other library as he may approve), and the British Library Board.

This requirement did not include any library under the previous Regional Council (the another municipal council in Hong Kong), and was not amended since the Hong Kong Central Library was open and replaced the City Hall Library as the main library for the whole dependent territory.


In Iceland, four copies of any published, printed, material must be sent to the National and University Library of Iceland, three of which will be kept there, and one of which will be kept at Amtsbókasafnið á Akureyri in Akureyri. If fewer than 50 copies are made only two are required.[17]


The Delivery of Books Act 1954 enacted by the Indian parliament regulates the deposit of books published in India to the National Library of India, Kolkata and three other libraries namely, Connemara Public Library, Chennai; Central Library, Mumbai and the Delhi Public Library. The Act was amended in 1956 to include periodicals and newspapers. The Indian National Bibliography is compiled on the receipt of books received under Delivery of Books Act at the National Library, Kolkata.


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, 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 four 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.[18]

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 Italy, the law on legal deposit (15 April 2004, n. 106) requires a copy of each publication to be sent to both the National Central Library of Florence and National Central Library of Rome, as it has been since the institution of the Kingdom of Italy (1861).

In addition, the regions determine local regional and provincial legal deposit libraries, which receive two more copies and often inherit that status from their pre-unification history. For instance, the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense is the Lombardy legal deposit library since 1788 (when it covered the Duchy of Milan), and the National Central Library of Florence since 1743 (for the Grand Duchy of Tuscany).


The legal deposit requirements for Japan's National Diet Library are specified in Chapters X through XI-3 of the National Diet Library Law.[19] These requirements vary based on whether the publishing entity is governmental or nongovernmental, and on whether the work is published physically or online. Required works are books, pamphlets, serials, music scores, maps, films, other documents or charts, phonographic records, and digital text, images, sounds, or programs. Nongovernmental publishers must submit a single copy, and are entitled to "compensation equivalent to the expenses usually required for the issue and deposit of the publication;" noncompliance is subject to a fine.


In Kenya, the legal deposit regulation is covered under the (Kenya Books and Newspaper Act Cap. 111) of 1960.[20] It covers books (any volume), encyclopaedia, magazines, review, gazette, pamphlet, leaflet, sheet of letterpress, sheet of music, map, plan and chart. However, it gives exceptions to letter heading, price list, annual reports, trade circular, trade advertisement, government publications, legal, trade or business document. The Acts gives the mandate to Kenya National Library Service and the Registrar of Books and Newspapers. According to the Act, publishers should deposit 2 copies with the Director, Kenya National Library Service and not more than 3 copies to the Registrar of Books and Newspapers as it may be specified. The regulations were last reviewed in the year 2002 where penalties were specified for non-compliance.[21]


The Liechtenstein State Library, colloquially known as the State Library, was formally established by law by the National Library Foundation in 1961. The State Library possesses a legal depository.As per the amended statutes, the roles of the State Library changed as such: the State Library now functions as a national library as well as a scientific and public library. As a national library, the State Library collects print materials, pictures and music created by citizens of Liechtenstein as well as items related to Liechtenstein. Also, the State Library acts as a patent library for the Principality of Liechtenstein and as such provides access to comprehensive international patent information. The State Library’s rules and regulations must follow the current legislation under Liechtenstein’s European Economic Area as well as Swiss legislation.[22]


In Malaysia, according to the Akta Penyerahan Bahan Perpustakaan 1986 (Deposit of Library Material Act 1986), five copies of printed library materials including books, printed materials, maps, charts and posters must be deposited to the National Library of Malaysia. In addition, two copies of non-printed library materials must also be deposited.[23]


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.[24]

New Zealand

The legal deposit was initiated in 1903 in New Zealand, and requires that copies of all printed documents, offline documents (e.g. DVDs), internet publications and websites are sent to the National Library of New Zealand within 20 working days of publication. This process is given legal force by Part 4 of the National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa) Act 2003.[25] If more than 100 copies are printed in total, 2 copies must be provided, otherwise 1. If the price of 1 copy is greater than $1,000 NZD, only 1 copy is required.[26]


Since 1780 the Załuski 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 Podlaskie 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 Portugal, all publishers are currently required to deposit 11 copies of all publications, which are distributed between the National Library of Portugal, municipal libraries of major cities, and the libraries of public institutions of science and higher learning. Special exceptions, of which only one copy is required (and stored in the National Library), include Masters and PhD dissertations, limited prints, stamps, plans, posters, among others.


In Russia the Russian State Library (Moscow), the National Library of Russia (St Petersburg), the Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences (St Petersburg), as well as the libraries of the Moscow State University, the President of the Russian Federation, and the two Houses of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation are entitled to a copy of every book published.


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.


The forerunner of the National and University Library of Slovenia, the Lyceum Library of Ljubljana was established around 1774 by a decree issued by Maria Theresa from the remains of the Jesuit Library and several monastery libraries. The submission of legal deposit copies to the Lyceum library became mandatory with a decree published by the Austrian court in 1807, at first only in Carniola, except for a short period of French occupation, when it received copies from all the Illyrian provinces. In 1919, it was named State Reference Library and started to collect legal deposit copies from the Slovenia of the time. In the same year, the University of Ljubljana (the first Slovenian university) was established and the library served its needs too. In 1921, it started to acquire legal deposit copies from the entire Kingdom of Yugoslavia. It was named the University Library in 1938.[27] Digitalna knjižnica Slovenije (Digital library of Slovenia) is a project of the National and University Library of Slovenia.

South Africa

In South Africa the Legal Deposit Act, 1997 requires publishers to provide five copies of every book published, if the print run consists of 100 or more copies. These copies must be deposited in the National Library of South Africa (NLSA) in Cape Town, the NLSA in Pretoria, the Mangaung Library Services in Bloemfontein, the Msunduzi Municipal Library in Pietermaritzburg, and the Library of Parliament in Cape Town. If the print run is less than 100 copies, then only one copy is required, to be deposited in the NLSA in Cape Town. If it is less than 20 copies, then no deposit is required.

For films, videos and sound recordings, the requirements are the same, except that the National Film, Video and Sound Archives (NFVSA) receives a deposit copy instead of the Library of Parliament, and if only one copy is required it is deposited in the NFVSA rather than the NLSA.[28]

South Korea

Article 20 of the Library Act requires that one or two copies of any tangible material published or produced in the country be sent to the National Library of Korea within 30 days for permanent preservation. Copies of online materials must be submitted on demand.[29]


In Spain, the obligation to deposit copies of printed materials has existed since 1619 for the Royal Library of El Escorial and since 1716 for the Royal Library of Madrid (later the National Library of Spain).[30]:8 From this moment, there followed multiple provisions, in the 19th century termed "legal deposit", all with the aim of enforcing compliance.

The decree of 1957 established a solid administrative base for legal deposit in Spain, based on the separation between provincial offices that managed legal deposit at the local level and conservation libraries, such as the National Library. The decree stipulated that printers were responsible for depositing several copies of all published works at the National Library and other public libraries. This legal deposit legislation covered a wide range of materials, including printed materials such as books and magazines, sound recordings, maps, movies, and postcards.[30]:95–97

The 1957 decree, though superseded by other decrees in 1971 and 1973, remained almost intact until 2011, when a new legal deposit law was passed on July 29, 2011. Law 23/2011 established, among other things, that the publisher, not the printer, was the primary entity responsible for submitting its materials to legal deposit. It also established procedures for the legal deposit of electronic materials, including online ones.[31] The number of copies that must be delivered to each library varies between two and four according to the type of material. Through legal deposit, the National Library collects all materials published in Spain. The central libraries for each autonomous community collect works published in their respective communities, and provincial libraries collect works published in their respective provinces.

Sri Lanka

First legal deposit of Sri Lanka was established in 1885 at the National Museum Library. The law of the country(According to National Archives Act No. 48 of 1973[32]) requires that a copy of every document printed in the country has to be deposited in the Legal Deposit.There are five Legal Deposit in the country.These are The National Archives of Sri Lanka, The National Library of Sri Lanka, The National Museum of Sri Lanka ,The Main Library University of Peradeniya,the Library, University of Ruhuna[33]


The Swedish Legal Deposit Act originates in 1661. According to present legislation, copies of printed material, sound and moving images has to be sent to The National Library of Sweden and Lund University Library (no audiovisual material). In 2012 the Legal Deposit Act for Electronic Material was passed. It states that starting in 2015, publishing companies and public authorities must deliver digitally published content to the National Library. In 2013-14 electronic legal deposits will start in a smaller scale.

United Kingdom

Legal deposit in the United Kingdom traces its origins to an agreement between Sir Thomas Bodley and the Stationer's Company that copies of new books would be added to the collection of the Bodleian Library in Oxford.[34] The Statute of Anne (1710) formalised the practice by extending it, in England, to the Royal Library (now the British Library), Cambridge University Library, and the library of Sion College, and, in Scotland, to the Advocates' Library, and the universities of St. Andrews, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen.[35] Over the years the number of legal deposit libraries has gone up and down, but there are now six legal deposit libraries under UK law: the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales, the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, the University Library, Cambridge, and the Library of Trinity College, Dublin (Trinity has retained its status despite being situated outside the UK since the Irish Free State was formed in 1921).[36]

The Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003[37] restates Section 15 of the Copyright Act 1911,[38] that one copy of every book (which includes pamphlets, magazines, newspapers, sheet music and maps) published there must be sent to the British Library; five other libraries (the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford, Cambridge University Library, the 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, a process which they normally coordinate jointly through Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries. The 2003 Act set out provisions for the deposit of non-print works. This legislation was updated with the introduction of secondary legislation, The Legal Deposit Libraries (Non-Print Works) Regulations 2013,[39] which make provision for the legal deposit of works published online or offline in formats other than print, such as websites, blogs, e-journals and CD-ROMs. Social media content is included in the legislation, but not private message sent via social media platforms. Pure video streaming websites are also excluded from the legislation.[40]

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.[41] 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.[42] The Library of Congress does not retain all works.

A legal requirement also rests on the US government. Over 1,250 Federal depository libraries must receive a copy of all of the publications of the Government Printing Office.

See also


  1. Larivière, Jules. – Guidelines for legal deposit legislation, - Paris : United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2000. – (scanned version), (HTML version)
  2. "COPYRIGHT ACT 1968 - SECT 201: Delivery of library material to the National Library".
  3. "Legal Deposit > States & Territories". National Library of Australia.
  4. Law n°10,994, as of December 14, 2004. The brazilian legal deposit act.
  5. Law n°12,192, with complements about brazilian music deposit.
  8. "Regulations on the Administration of Publication". The State Council. December 25, 2001. Article 23. Retrieved 7 September 2013.
  9. "致出版社:关于缴送图书册数的说明". National Library of China. July 3, 2006. Retrieved 7 September 2013. (in Chinese)
  10. "".
  11. "".
  12. "".
  13. "Søga og endamál, Um Landsbókasavnið" (in Faroese). National Library of the Faroe Islands. Archived from the original on December 14, 2013.
  14. Kansalliskirjasto, Nationalbiblioteket, The National Library of Finland. "Submitting of legal deposit copies - The National Library of Finland".
  15. "DNBG - nichtamtliches Inhaltsverzeichnis".
  17. Landsbókasafn|Leiðbeiningar
  18. Legal Deposit Department of the National Library of Israel.
  19. "National Diet Library Law". National Diet Library. Retrieved 2015-10-19.
  20. Ronald Makori. "National Library".
  21. retrieved from
  22. Akta 331 - Akta Penyerahan Bahan Perpustakaan 1986, Attorney General's Chambers of Malaysia
  23. Ordonnance Souveraine n° 816 du 21 novembre 2006 portant application de la loi n° 1.313 du 29 juin 2006 sur le dépôt légal
  24. "Legal Deposit".
  25. National Library Requirement (Books and Periodicals) Notice 2004 - Section for number of copies required
  26. Savnik, Mojca; Balažic, Dare; Cerkvenik, Žiga. "History & Collections - National and University Library of Slovenia". The European Library. Koninklijke Bibliotheek.
  27. "Legal Deposit Information" (PDF). National Library of South Africa. Retrieved 21 July 2010.
  28. "Legal Deposit and Acquisition". National Library of Korea. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  29. 1 2 Guastavino Gallent, Guillermo (1962). El depósito legal de obras impresas en España; su historia, su reorganización y resultados, 1958-1961. (in Spanish). Madrid: Dirección General de Archivos y Bibliotecas. OCLC 6467776.
  30. Government of Spain (2011), "Ley 23/2011, de 29 de julio, de depósito legal" (PDF), Boletín Oficial del Estado (in Spanish), Madrid (published 30 July 2011) (182): 86716–86727, retrieved 13 December 2011
  31. Sri Lanka Consolidated Acts. 30 April 2005 Retrieved 25 October 2016. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  32. "Legal deposit". University of Ruhuna. 30 April 2005. Retrieved 25 October 2016.
  33. "Loughborough University Institutional Repository".
  34. "History of Copyright: Statute of Anne, 1710".
  35. "Introduction to legal deposit". British Library. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  36. The Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003, applies to the United Kingdom.
  37. "Copyright Act 1911".
  38. The Legal Deposit Libraries (Non-Print Works) Regulations 2013, SI 2013/77
  39. "Non-print legal deposit: FAQs". British Library. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
  40. Library of Congress Mandatory Deposit Rules
  41. U.S. Copyright Office - Online Services (eCO: Electronic Copyright Office)

Further reading

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