Legal deposit

Legal deposit is the obligation, imposed by law or other type of administrative regulation, to deposit one or more copies of publications edited in a country to one or more libraries.

The purpose of the legal deposit is the compilation of the cultural and intellectual heritage of each country, in order to make it available to the citizens. It is therefore a means that guarantees the preservation of all editorial production and must be seen as a democratic good that ensures citizens today, and future generations, access to the intellectual legacy for informational and research purposes.

In Spain, the precursor of the depósito legal dates back to 1616 for the Library of El Escorial and to 1716 for the Royal Library of Madrid, now the National Library of Spain.

The complete organization of the depósito legal for Spain was carried out through the Regulations of the Legal Deposit Service approved by Decree of December 23, 1957 (PDF) (BOE No. 17, of January 20, 1958). This regulation, developed by a team of librarians, was among the most advanced of its time in terms of the variety of materials subject to legal deposit and in terms of anticipating the deposit of other types of documents that might exist in the future. With the legal deposit number and the administrative system developed for its control, the legal deposit offices achieved effective compliance with legal deposit for the first time.

On July 30, the Law 23/2011 on legal deposit is published in the Official State Gazette (B.O.E.). This new law, the result of a broad bibliographic agreement, responds to the need to adapt the compilation of bibliographic heritage - and thus its preservation and dissemination - to the changes that have occurred in the publishing world as a result of new technologies and, especially, to publications on the internet. The Law also responds to the need to adapt the practice of legal deposit to the status of the autonomous communities both in terms of their collections and the distribution of competencies between them and the BNE (National Library of Spain). Furthermore, the Law maintains the management of legal deposit through the legal deposit offices, dependent on the Autonomous Communities because its effectiveness is clearly demonstrated.

All bibliographic, sound, visual, audiovisual, and digital works produced or edited in Spain, by any method of production, edition, or dissemination and distributed in any medium, tangible or intangible, are subject to legal deposit.

Two are the major novelties incorporated by this law. On the one hand, the publisher, if not existing as a depositor, a strange anomaly in a legal deposit law, becomes the basic depositing subject. On the other hand, it provides a solution for archiving resources on the internet. The basis for archiving internet resources and for resources with tangible physical support is the same: to preserve and disseminate bibliographic heritage, in our case also, in all its linguistic diversity.

On July 10, 2015, the Council of Ministers approved the Royal Decree that regulates the legal deposit of online publications. This royal decree develops Law 23/2011, of July 29, on Legal Deposit, in which websites and online publications are considered for the first time as subject to legal deposit.

Law 8/2022, of May 4, which amends Law 23/2011, of July 29, on legal deposit, updates and optimizes the previous regulations to make them more suitable and effective in the dynamic and changing scenario of current cultural and editorial creation.

Among the notable novelties of the new Law, it is proposed that in the case of books, newspapers, and magazines, the publisher shall deposit, in addition to the mandatory printed copies, a digital copy prior to the printing of publications in physical format. Likewise, the reform fully incorporates the digitally born heritage that until now was regulated by the Royal Decree on legal deposit of online publications of 2015.

Another notable novelty is the inclusion of video games in the typology of cultural creations. Previously understood within audiovisual documents, they will now have their own section to achieve the deposit of the complete edition of that documentary typology. Regarding the legal deposit of online publications, the modification of its regulation aims to avoid confusion regarding the obligation of legal deposit and clarify that the initiative does not fall on publishers or producers, but on conservation centers.

The Law recognizes and strengthens the role of the National Library of Spain (BNE) as a coordinator and advisor between regional centers and deposits, as well as its duty to monitor compliance with legal deposit regulations.




Documents / Links of interest