Printed publications legal deposit

A quick quide to what you need to know about how legal deposit applies to printed publications. Separate pages deal with electronic legal deposit.

The existing entitlement to request printed works and the arrangements for depositing them are not changed by the introduction of the non-print regulations in 2013.

Main points

  • The National Library of Scotland is entitled by law to receive a copy of every printed work published in the United Kingdom, free of charge from the publisher. To obtain it, the Library should make a request in writing within 12 months of the date of publication, though the Library is also pleased to receive publications which have not been claimed. The law which entitles the Library to do this is the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003, along with the Legal Deposit Libraries (Non-Print Works) Regulations 2013.
  • All printed works are covered by this legislation, including books, pamphlets, single sheets, maps, printed music, journals and newspapers.
  • The need to deposit an item does not depend on its having been allocated an International Standard Book or Serial Number (ISBN) or (ISSN), but on whether or not it can be considered to have been published. A work is said to be published when copies of it are issued to the public. The place of publication or printing, the nature of the imprint and the size of distribution are immaterial. It is therefore the act of issuing or distributing to the public in the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland which renders a work liable to deposit.
  • Publishers may choose to send deposit copies of their publications for the National Library of Scotland either direct to the Legal Deposit Team, or to the Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries. Publishers should also send a copy to the British Library.
  • Official registration of copyright is no longer necessary in the United Kingdom. When publications are supplied to the library or agency a receipt is issued to the publisher. This acknowledges delivery of the publication, but has no bearing on the ownership of copyright.


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