Discussion paper

Extending legal deposit: consultation paper

Law Human rights Libraries Policy Publishers and publishing Australia
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The collection of legal deposit material forms a national record of Australia’s intellectual and creative endeavours and this discussion paper considers the potential benefits of extending the types of material collected.

Legal deposit has a long history in common law countries and has been a part of Australia’s copyright law since its colonial origins. Its genealogy may be traced back to the genesis of statutory copyright, the Statute of Anne in 1709, and even further to deposit licensing arrangements established in 1610 by the University of Oxford and the Stationer’s Company, a London-based guild of printers, booksellers and publishers.

It is generally recognised that legal deposit provides benefits to the Australian public by providing a reliable mechanism for the preservation of Australia’s documented heritage. The collection of legal deposit material forms a national record of Australia’s intellectual and creative endeavours, our cultural heritage, our history and way of life. Further public benefits are derived from deposit material, particularly as other copies cease to be commercially available over time.

The Attorney-General’s Department, working with the Office for the Arts in the Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport, is seeking comments from interested stakeholders on a proposed model to extend the legal deposit obligation in section 201 of the Copyright Act 1968 in relation to material deposited with the National Library of Australia (the National Library). Existing obligations to deposit print-based library materials under section 201 are not under consideration.

In 2007, the Attorney-General’s Department and the then Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts released the 2007 Discussion Paper on the Extension of Legal Deposit. That paper sought views on extending legal deposit to electronic material, broadcasts and audiovisual material and on the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) also being made a repository institution for legal deposit.

This current paper is focused solely on a proposal for an extended scheme in the Copyright Act for the National Library and is without prejudice to further consultation to be conducted by the Office for the Arts on legal deposit of audiovisual material to the NFSA.

The proposed scheme outlined in the consultation paper does not represent the government’s final position on this matter and does not necessarily represent the views of the agencies concerned. Interested stakeholders are encouraged to contribute their views and any other relevant information that may assist the government in adopting the most appropriate scheme. We would encourage those who have a view on the issues outlined in this consultation paper to make a written submission by 14 April 2012.

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