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Self-regulated code for the voluntary deposit of microform and offline (hand held) electronic publications

1 March 2010





1.1.    Legal deposit helps to ensure that the nation’s published output (and thereby its intellectual record and future published heritage) is collected systematically, and as comprehensively as possible, both in order to preserve the material for the use of future generations and, with certain important exceptions (c.f. paragraphs 9 and 12.5), to make it available to readers within the libraries defined in the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 (the British Library; the National Library of Scotland; the National Library of Wales; the Bodleian Library, Oxford; the University Library, Cambridge; and the Library of Trinity College, Dublin. Hereinafter ‘Libraries’).  The system dates back several hundred years, enforced by statute since 1662, and has been a vital element in preserving and making available the published record of previous generations for readers today and the future.


1.2.    The Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 reaffirmed existing provisions for deposit of printed publications and created a framework of legislation in which regulations could be made for the deposit of electronic and other non-print publications. The Legal Deposit Advisory Panel, an independent non-departmental public body, was set up in September 2005 to advise the Secretary of State on the implementation of the Act and to make recommendations on both regulatory and non-regulatory options for the deposit of non-print publications.


1.3.    This Code covers the deposit of United Kingdom non-print publications in microform and offline electronic media. The latter, also sometimes known as ‘hand-held’, ‘portable’ or ‘packaged’ electronic publications, are electronic publications issued on discrete physical digital media such as magnetic tapes, magnetic disks or, more commonly, optical disks of some kind, such as CD-ROM or DVD.


1.4.    This Code is voluntary and there is no legal obligation on publishers to comply with it. However, all parties to the Code request and encourage publishers to comply wherever possible. Deposit is requested in all but the most exceptional of circumstances although, for the avoidance of doubt, it is not intended that deposit should unreasonably prejudice the interests of persons who publish such works.


1.5.    An earlier voluntary scheme for the deposit of non-print publications was set up in January 2000 by representatives from the Libraries and several publishing trade organisations.  The operation of that scheme for hand-held non-print publications has been examined over a 12-month period by the Legal Deposit Advisory Panel. The Panel concluded that, for this category of publication, the Government’s aims can be achieved by it, subject to certain amendments; the Panel’s recommendation, accepted by the Secretary of State, was for a Self-Regulated Voluntary Code with Active Requesting. This Code represents the embodiment of the Panel’s recommendations.

Purpose of this Code

2.   The purpose of this Code is to contribute to the national published archive by requesting and encouraging the publishers of relevant hand-held non-print publications to deposit one or more copies with the Libraries, as detailed in the following provisions.

Self-regulation and governance

3.1.   The Legal Deposit Advisory Panel has recommended to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport that Government intervention by regulation is not necessary for this category of publication, particularly when it is believed that publishers’ use of this particular format is likely to decline over time. The parties to this Code are working actively and in collaboration for the public benefit. Publishers are requested to deposit relevant works at their own cost and the Libraries are requested to preserve them and make them available within their premises for research purposes.

3.2.   The Secretary of State has accepted the Panel’s recommendation that the Government’s aims can be achieved by implementation of a self-regulated code. The terms of the Code will initially be set by the Panel in line with its recommendations to the Secretary of State.

3.3.    The Joint Committee on Legal Deposit is a voluntary body, comprising representatives of the Libraries and publishing trade organisations, which meets quarterly.The Joint Committee will oversee implementation and operation of the Code itself, with the following responsibilities:

  1. to launch the Code, informing publishers and other stakeholders as appropriate;
  2. to advocate compliance with the Code including, where necessary, interventions to ensure its success;
  3. to receive a yearly analysis of the number of hand-held non-print publications identified, requested and deposited with the Libraries;
  4. to carry out occasional reviews of the operation of the Code, taking corrective action where necessary to ensure its continued success (a report to the Legal Deposit Advisory Panel following an interim review after two and a half years is required as a minimum);
  5. to oversee resolution of any disputes arising from operation of the Code, arbitrating if required;
  6. to carry out a full review after five years, making recommendations to the Legal Deposit Advisory Panel either for continuation of the Code, perhaps with amendments, or for its cessation or replacement with alternative proposals if it is no longer deemed appropriate.

3.4.    Any recommendations, after the five-year review, for changes to the Code or for its cessation or replacement with alternative arrangements will be made to the Secretary of State by the Legal Deposit Advisory Panel.

Parties to this Code

4.   This self-regulated Code has been endorsed by the following organisations:

Public and other bodies:
Legal Deposit Advisory Panel
Joint Committee on Legal Deposit

Publishing trade bodies:
Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers
Data Publishers Association
International Association of Scientific, Technical & Medical Publishers
Periodical Publishers Association
Publishers Association

Legal deposit libraries:
British Library
National Library of Scotland
National Library of Wales
University Library, Cambridge
Bodleian Library, Oxford
Trinity College Library, Dublin

Publications to be deposited

Place of publication

5.   Deposit is requested of United Kingdom publications. Within the terms of the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003, ‘publisher’ is read as ‘one who issues or distributes publications to the public’, thus including publications originally published abroad, but distributed in the United Kingdom. It is the act of issuing or distributing to the public in the United Kingdom which renders a work liable for deposit. This definition, which has long applied for printed works, is equally valid for microform and offline electronic publications which are distributed on hand held media. However the parties to this Code wish to make clear that it should not be considered a precedent for online or networked publications, for which separate recommendations may be made at a later date.

Medium of publication

6.1.    This Code covers the deposit of United Kingdom non-print publications in microform and offline electronic media as described in paragraph 1.3.

6.2.    Online publications do not fall within the scope of this Code. Separate recommendations will be made at a later date for arrangements relating to the deposit of online publications which are substantially fixed at the time of first publication, and the online elements of hybrid offline/online publications.

6.3.    It is recognised that deposit of offline publications which require separately licensed software for their operation may present problems; it is recommended that the publisher should obtain the necessary licence on behalf of the Library. Under the Code the publisher is under no obligation to deposit if they are unable or unwilling to do this.

Publications appearing in more than one medium

7.   Publications which appear with substantially identical content in more than one medium only need to be deposited in one medium. The choice of medium would be with the Library. For the time being, this would normally be print where available.

Types of publications to be deposited

8.1.    The Code does not cover film, sound, or Ordnance Survey digital mapping products, which are subject to separate schemes.

8.2.    Subject to the definitions and exclusions identified elsewhere in the Code, deposit is requested of all United Kingdom microform and offline electronic publications which are primarily text-based or which are intended as information rather than entertainment products.

Exclusions from deposit

9.   Deposit is not required:

  1. if a publication substantially duplicates the content of a print publication from the same publisher already deposited;
  2. if a publication is published only for private internal use within an organisation;
  3. if a publication has already been deposited under a publishing agreement;
  4. if it is in a category of publications specified by the Libraries as not being required for deposit – e.g. computer software, computer games.

Formats to be deposited

10.1.   Microforms should be deposited in a format suitable for end-user use, normally either microfiche or roll microfilm. Where multiple formats of the same content are published, the preferred format for deposit is 35mm silver halide positive copies.

10.2.   Offline publications should be deposited in the form in which they are made available to the public, together with any associated software, manuals and material which are also made available to the public to enable them to be used.

10.3    Experience shows that programmed Digital Rights Management controls and other technical protections can often obstruct the long-term preservation of offline electronic publications.  Therefore, where it is practical and without causing unreasonable burden or expense to the publisher, it is requested that publications should be deposited free of any such Digital Rights Management programmes or technical measures which might prevent legitimate copying as envisaged by paragraph 13.1 of this Code.

Number of copies to be deposited

11.1.   Publishers should deposit one copy of all new microform and offline electronic publications to the British Library and, on request, five copies to the Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries. The British Library, who will seek to identify and request all relevant publications, will issue a list of the items it receives to the Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries and the Agent will in turn request five additional copies on their behalf if not already deposited. It is recognised that the need to respond to separate requests at different times may increase the administrative burden for publishers; therefore it is suggested that, where appropriate and if a publisher so chooses, it can be more convenient to deposit six copies automatically (allocated as above), as part of a standard distribution process.

11.2.   Copies for the British Library should always be sent direct to the British Library. At their discretion, and if preferred, publishers may also choose to send copies direct to the other five Libraries, instead of to the Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries.

Access and use arrangements for deposited publications

12.1.  For offline electronic publications, the level of access allowed will be to a single user at a time, across a secure intranet, within each Library that holds a copy and within an area only accessible to authorised users of the Library.  Access must be delivered only to authorised devices which are under the relevant Library’s control and within the confines of its premises.

12.2.   All wider access within or between individual libraries, or use for such purposes as document supply and inter-library loan, or downloading copying and saving electronic content by users, are only permitted under explicit licence from the publisher and with the payment of fees and/or royalties set by the publisher.

12.3.   Printing out is to be permitted only up to the same maximum limits as for photocopying from printed publications and only for the purposes of research in accordance with the law.

12.4.   Electronic downloading and saving from deposited publications by users is not to be permitted.

12.5.   For certain categories of printed publication, Libraries have been willing to agree restrictions or embargoes on access for a specified period. All parties to this Code recognise that, whilst deposit of all new publications is requested at the time of first publication, publishers’ legitimate business interests must also be protected. The practice of agreeing such restrictions or embargoes on access provides a suitable mechanism for ensuring that deposit does not interfere with a publisher’s normal exploitation and similar arrangements will be made available for non-print publications.

Copying for preservation purposes

13.1.   The long-term accessibility and usability of offline media such as CD-ROM cannot at present be assured. The Libraries therefore need to be able to copy the contents of offline publications to other media for preservation purposes. It will be assumed that the holding Library may copy a publication onto other media for preservation purposes only, subject to preservation of the individual publication's original identity and integrity. The copied version may not be used to provide additional user access.

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