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This page considers legal deposit schemes in Asia and Africa.

It covers -

     Singapore and Malaysia

In Singapore Chapter 197 of the National Library Board Act 1995 requires the publisher to deposit two copies of every publication published in Singapore with the National Library Board, at their own expense, within four weeks from the date of publication.

The main purpose of the provisions is characterised as "to preserve the nation's literary heritage and make them accessible to present and future generations". The legislation covers "all print and non-print materials that are published or produced in Singapore, intended for sale or public distribution". It encompasses books, magazines, annual reports, newsletters and bulletins, music scores, posters, CD-ROMs, video and audio cassettes.

Malaysia's Deposit of Library Material Act 1986 (here) provides for the National Library to receive copies of publications in

any form of printed, graphic. audio, electronic or other media, on or in which information is written, recorded, stored, displayed or produced [including] ... books, serials, maps, charts and posters ... non-printed library material including cinematograph films, microforms, phonographic records, video and audio recordings and other electronic media

Five copies of books and other printed material are to be deposited, with two copies of non-printed material such as sound recordings.


Legal deposit in Japan is covered by the 1948 National Diet Library Law, which obligates publishers of Japanese books, pamphlets, serials, music scores, maps, charts films and phonographic records and "Texts, images, sounds, or programs recorded by electronic, magnetic, or other methods which cannot be directly perceived by human senses" to deposit a copy in the paliamentary library.

Japan is unusual in that publishers receive a nominal payment, covering the cost of printing and postage.

The Japanese regime features a Legal Deposit System Council (LDSC), established in 1999 following recommendations by a Legal Deposit System Research Council regarding the shape of legal deposit for electronic publications. Consistent with many overseas counterparts, the Council called for legal deposit of physical format electronic publications but suggested that online content be acquired through individual contract.


In India the Delivery of Books and Newspapers (Public Libraries) Act 1954 requires deposit with the National Library at Calcutta and any three other depository libraries. The legislation covers

any volume, part or division of a volume and pamphlet, in any language, and every sheet of music, map, chart or plan separately printed or lithographed

and "any printed periodical work containing public news or comments on public news published in conformity" with the Press and Registration of Books Act 1867.

     South Africa

South Africa's Legal Deposit Act 1997 (here) - administered by the deliciously-named Subdirectorate of Meta-information - takes a broad definition of 'document' ("any object which is intended to store or convey information in textual, graphic, visual, auditory or other intelligible format through any medium ") and encompasses online electronic publications.

In practice online content is subject to deposit only when specifically requested by the State Library.

The Act identifies the National Film, Video & Sound Archive (NFVSA) as the repository for "audio-visual material that has been published and made available in South Africa.


Legislation establishes the Jewish National & University Library (JNUL) as the legal deposit library of Israel.

It receives two copies of each book, journal, cassette or disk published in Israel. The publications are catalogued in the JNUL catalogue and in the Israel national bibliography.



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version of October 2005
© Bruce Arnold
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