Thursday, November 12, 2009

What is legal deposit?

What is legal deposit? That's a question which many people unfamiliar with their country's national library system may be wondering when they see the term referred to.

Many countries around the world have a law requiring copies of certain published material to be deposited in their national library. This requirement goes back centures in some countries, and is relatively modern in others. Though it originally applied to books, audio, video, CDs, and even websites are now often required to be submitted to a publisher's national library.

Legal deposit can serve as a useful tool for proving copyright ownership of a certain work, since by depositing it in a national library, the creator can prove that the work was created by a certain date during a court dispute. Like the Writers Guild of America script registration service, submitting a dated copy of your work to an independent third party provides valuable evidence during a trial. What's especially interesting is that depending on your country, you may be able to submit a website for archiving by your national library, meaning that even evidence of when a website was created can be created by working with your country's legal deposit program.

Some countries are more complicated in terms of legal deposit requirements than others. In the United Kingdom, for example, more than one library is entitled to your work when you publish it. Also, many countries require every differing version of a printed work to be published, regardless of the first version having already been submitted.

To make life easier, I have compiled a list of legal deposit libraries for readers to access. Each website listed should give more detailed instructions relevant to the specific country whose library it represents. You can view the list here. I hope this is of help to anybody wishing to learn more about how legal deposit works.

RELATED LINKS (Open in new window)

List of legal deposit libraries (Cyber Law Facts)

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