Legal Deposit

Legal Deposit


The “wording of the 1537 “Ordonnance de Montpellier” (see below) shows that the idea of safeguarding books from being lost to posterity is already central. It is true that other aims have been suggested, more or less officially, for legal deposit, such as state control over publications, and protection of copyright. In the former case, legal deposit is sometimes considered as being primarily a matter of state control over what is published: this is not entirely accurate, particularly since in the early years of legal deposit there were already censorship laws in place which assured the state control of publications more effectively than legal deposit.

Over time, however, the perceived purpose of legal deposit has shifted, with aspects of state control mixed with those of cultural heritage, while the status of a work held under legal deposit has also been used to safeguard copyright, during the period 1793-1925. Since 1925 legal deposit in France no longer plays this role, and today the Code de la propriété intellectuelle (the French Copyright Act), following the Convention of Berne, specifies that copyright is inherent in published works.”(1)

Legal Deposit in Sweden

According to the Legal Deposit Act, the National Library of Sweden and six other university libraries
have the right to acquire a free copy of every publication published in Sweden. This also applies to
those publications that are printed on a photocopier if they are distributed to the general public.
The printer is responsible for sending in deposit copies for publications printed in Sweden. If a
publisher has printed a publication in-house or has allowed a publication to be printed abroad then
he/she is responsible for sending in deposit copies. As of the year 1994, the Legal Deposit Act also
includes electronic documents that are produced in more than 50 copies.

Legal Deposit in France

Legal deposit in France “was created in 1537 by King Francis 1st, in what is known as the “Ordonnance de Montpellier” . This text obliged printers and booksellers to deposit a copy of
every printed book published or made available in France to the Royal Library, which was
later to become the National Library. Over the centuries, several legal texts have been put in
place to regulate legal deposit, and the legislation has evolved to cover different publication
types and forms, hence adjusting to all major technological and social changes. This is
particularly true during the 20th and 21st century, when the development of many media
innovations created many new forms of publication, which have gradually been included in
the scope of legal deposit legislation. The most recent addition, following the 2006 law on
Authors’ Rights and Related Rights in the Information Society, is electronic publications and
the Internet.”(2)

The heritage basis of legal deposit was affirmed in a revision of the relevant law in 1992, in
which the clauses relating to legal deposit were added to the “Code du Patrimoine” , the
collection of French legislation relating to cultural heritage3. The cultural role of legal deposit
is also taken up in the decree defining the foundation of the new Bibliothèque nationale de
France, dating from 1994. Here the first two missions of the library are defined as:

1) To collect, catalogue, conserve and enrich, in all areas of knowledge, the national heritage for which it has responsibility, in particular the heritage of the French language and French civilisation;
2) To ensure access by the greatest possible number to the collections, with the exception of secrets protected by law, under conditions respecting the legislation on intellectual property and compatible with the conservation of the collections.

The relevant articles of the Code du Patrimoine, along with several other texts, control the manner in which material is collected, conserved and made available.”(3)

Institutions responsible for legal deposit in France

  • Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF): (
  • INA:

Other non-legal deposit institutions in France are:

  • Internet Memory Foundation:
  • Sciences Po, Médialab:

Legal Deposit in United States

Distinctly from some other countries (like France and Spain), in the United States legal deposit is tightly linked with copyright legislation ( Copyright Law of the United States of America and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United StatesCode; Chapter 4: Copyright Notice, Deposit, and Registration; Article 407. Deposit of copies or phonorecords for Library of Congress)

In the United States, legal deposit is regulated by the Copyright Law of the United States of America and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code; Chapter 4: Copyright Notice, Deposit, and Registration. (4)

Legal Deposit in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, legal deposit is regulated by the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003


Notes and References

  1. The state of e-legal deposit in France: looking back at five years of putting new legislation into practice and envisioning the future, Peter Stirling and Gildas Illien
  2. Idem
  3. Idem

See Also

  • Digital Legal Deposit
  • US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)
  • Legal research: Law of Libraries and Archives
  • Legal research: resources for libraries
  • List of Legal Systems in Countries Around the World

Further Reading

  • Bermes, Emmanuelle; Fauduet, Louise; Peyrard, Sébastien. A data first approach to digital
    preservation: the SPAR project. In: World Library and Information Congress: 76th Ifla General
    Conference And Assembly (IFLA 76), 10-15 August 2010, Gothenburg, Sweden.
  • Bleicher, Ariel. “A Memory of Webs past” . In: IEEE Spectrum, Mars 2011.
  • BnF. Preservation of digital material: the SPAR project.
  • Department for Culture, Media and Sport, “Legal Deposit” .
  • AFNIC. French Domain Name Industry Report 2010 (
  • Huchet, Bernard ; Illien, Gildas ; Oury, Clément. Le temps des moissons. Le dépôt légal du
    Web : vers la construction d’un patrimoine cooperative. In: Revue de l’Association des
    Bibliothécaires de France, 2010, n° 52, pp. 28-31
  • International Internet Preservation Consortium. (
  • ISO. Open archival information system: Reference model (ISO 14721:2003).
  • Library of Congress. Web Archiving. (
  • NetarchiveSuite. (

Hierarchical Display of Legal deposit

Education And Communications > Communications > Communications industry > Publishing

Legal deposit

Concept of Legal deposit

See the dictionary definition of Legal deposit.

Characteristics of Legal deposit

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Translation of Legal deposit

Thesaurus of Legal deposit

Education And Communications > Communications > Communications industry > Publishing > Legal deposit

See also