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Legal deposit

Legal Deposit: preserving Canada's published heritage

Legal Deposit is the means by which a comprehensive national collection is gathered together as a record of the nation's published heritage and development. Canadian publishers are required to send two copies of all the books, pamphlets, serial publications, microforms, spoken word sound recordings, videorecordings, electronic publications issued in physical formats, such as CD-ROM, CD-I, computer diskette, etc, and one copy of musical sound recordings and multi-media kits they publish, to Library and Archives Canada (LAC).

By depositing your publication in LAC's collection, you ensure its preservation for generations to come in the world's foremost collection of Canadiana.

When your publication is deposited, a brief description is entered in AMICUS, Library and Archives Canada's database. This record of your publication ensures that its existence is made known to the public, and acknowledges your contribution as a Canadian publisher.

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Legal deposit has been recognized as an effective means of collecting and preserving a country's published heritage for more than 450 years. It was established in 1537 with the Ordonnance de Montpellier enacted by King Francis I to ensure the collection and preservation of documents published in France. Since that time, the principle behind legal deposit has been accepted and practised internationally as a vital part of building a comprehensive collection of a nation's published works. It has been in effect in Canada since the National Library was created in 1953, and now continued as of 2004 by Library and Archives Canada.

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Authority for Legal Deposit

Library and Archives Canada administers legal deposit as part of its responsibility to preserve the nation's published heritage and make it accessible to present and future generations.

According to the Library and Archives of Canada Act (http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/L-7.7/index.html) (formerly the National Library Act) and the Legal Deposit of Publications Regulations (http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/N-12/index.html) (formerly the National Library Book Deposit Regulations, 1995 http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/otherreg/sor-95-199/224033.html), Canadian publishers are required to send copies of their publications to Library and Archives Canada within a week of their release.

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Publications affected by Legal Deposit

Legal deposit applies to all types of publications in all types of formats. The original legislation, which applied primarily to books, was extended to include serial publications in 1965, sound recordings in 1969, multi-media kits in 1978, microforms in 1988, CD-ROMs and video recordings in 1993, and electronic publications on all types of physical formats in 1995.

Effective Jan. 1, 2007 Legal Deposit was again extended to include maps and on-line publications.

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Publishers affected by Legal Deposit

Legal deposit is applied widely. It covers all individuals, associations, federal government departments and agencies, trade and periodical publishers, and publishers of audio, video, multimedia, microforms, maps, and electronic publications issued in physical formats, as well as on-line publishers.

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Changes in Legal Deposit

Effective January 1, 2007, legal deposit regulations were extended to include on-line or Internet publications as well as maps in addition to all the formats previously subject to deposit. Key features of deposit include:

  • Two copies of each publication format must be deposited.

  • Two copies must be deposited when 100 or more copies are made.

  • One copy must be deposited when more than three but fewer than 100 copies are made.

  • Legal deposit does not apply if three or fewer copies are made.

  • Only one copy of musical sound recordings, multi-media kits, and on-line publications must be deposited.

For other details, the reader is advised to consult the Legal Deposit of Publications Regulations.

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Assisting Canadian publishers through Legal Deposit

Legal deposit ensures accessibility. Through legal deposit, all works produced by Canadian publishers become part of LAC's collections and are available to Canadians today and tomorrow.

Publications received through legal deposit gain significant publicity through a number of associated LAC programs.

  • Prior to publication, publishers can apply at LAC for International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN), and International Standard Music Numbers (ISMN) to print on their publications. Similarly, publishers of periodicals may apply for International Standard Serial Number (ISSN). These numbering systems facilitate identification for inventory control, for the ordering of copies at point-of-retail, and for quick retrieval from databases.

  • Even before they are published, they can be listed through the Canadian Cataloguing in Publication (CIP) program, which distributes a preliminary description of the publications to libraries and bookstores through trade publications, LAC's database and other media such as New Books Service.

  • They are catalogued and listed in Canadiana, the national bibliography, which is widely circulated in Canada and abroad as well as in the AMICUS database available online.

  • They are the subject of public readings and book signings by the authors as part of LAC's public program events.

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Compliance with Legal Deposit regulations

The law requires all Canadian publishers to deposit, at their expense, copies of their works, in all formats that are covered by the legal deposit regulations, with Library and Archives Canada.

Publishers are asked to:

  • Determine the number of copies to be deposited.

  • Complete a form to accompany each work sent. While the completion of this form is not obligatory, valuable information such as the size of the print run, background data on the authors, and terms of availability is added to LAC's database. Mailing labels and forms are available upon request.

  • Send the copies to LAC within one week of release.

  • Include LAC on their mailing list for future publications.

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After deposit

  • Library and Archives Canada acknowledges receipt of the publication by issuing a "Receipt for Legal Deposit" to the publisher. In the case of a serial publication, an acknowledgement is sent only once to the publisher, after receipt of the first issue and also after receipt of the first issue of a title change.

  • It creates a record describing the publication and makes it available through the national bibliography and the LAC database.

  • It deacidifies, where applicable, any print publications that need treatment. (This applies to a decreasing number of publications, as most fine paper now used in Canadian publishing is alkaline.)

  • One copy of every publication, in any format, is stored in LAC's preservation collection, where it is kept in a carefully controlled environment and allowed limited use only. The objective is to ensure its availability for future generations. Where applicable, the other copy is placed in LAC's service collection for use as required.

  • All use is subject to copyright laws.

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For further information

Legal Deposit staff would be pleased to provide more detailed information or answer any further questions you may have. Please contact:

Legal Deposit
Library and Archives Canada
395 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON   K1A 0N4
Telephone: 819-997-9565
Toll free number for Canada: 1-866-578-7777 (Select 1+7+1)
Toll free number for the deaf (TDD): 1-866-299-1699
Fax: 819-953-8508
E-mail: legal.deposit@lac-bac.gc.ca
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Tax deduction

Although the market value of publications sent to Library and Archives Canada for Legal Deposit is not deductible for income tax purposes, a publisher can deduct, as a business expense, the cost of labour and material required for producing the copies deposited, when such expenses occur in the course of earning income from the business of publishing. For more information on the maximum amount of the deduction and for any exemptions, please contact Canada Customs and Revenue Agency at www.cra-arc.gc.ca/menu-e.html.

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Many publishers enquire about the relationship copyright has to legal deposit. In Canada, copyright is covered by a separate program or statute from that of legal deposit. Depositing with LAC does not represent copyright protection. For information on copyright in Canada, please contact:

Canadian Intellectual Property Office
Industry Canada
Place du Portage I
50 Victoria Street, 2nd Floor
Gatineau, QC   K1A 0C9
Telephone: 819-997-1936
Fax: 819-953-7620