Legal Deposit – What Is It And Are You Covered?

A copy of every book published in the United Kingdom must be deposited with the British Library. This includes everything from the latest blockbuster through to the self-published history of the Jo Bloggs family. The British Library’s website provides the following succinct explanation of Legal Deposit:
“Legal deposit has existed in English law since 1662. It helps to ensure that the nation’s published output (and thereby its intellectual record and future
published heritage) is collected systematically, to preserve the material for the use of future generations and to make it available for readers within
the designated legal deposit libraries”, (see
From 6 April 2013 legislation pertaining to electronic publications came into force:
“From 6 April 2013, legal deposit also covers material published electronically, so that the Legal Deposit Libraries can maintain a national collection of
e-journals, e-books, digitally published news, magazines and other types of content.

The Legal Deposit Libraries (Non-Print Works) Regulations 2013 apply to any work published in offline media (on CD-ROM, microform etc.) in the UK, and to
any work published online:

“(a) if it is made available to the public from a website with a domain name which relates to the United Kingdom or to a place within the United Kingdom;

(b) it is made available to the public by a person and any of that person’s activities relating to the creation or the publication of the work take place
within the United Kingdom.” (see
I am no legal expert. However my reading of (b) suggests that all UK authors should be providing copies of their electronic publications to the British Library. If you write in the UK this, to me indicates that the legislation applies (due to the activity of writing occurring in the UK). Of course Amazon and other ebook distributors may already be furnishing copies of electronic publications covered by the legislation to the British Library. However, in the case of Amazon at least I am not convinced that this is, in fact the case. Consequently the onus for providing electronic publications to the British Library appears to rest squarely on the shoulders of UK based authors.
Does anyone have any expertise in this field? I suspect that many authors, including myself remain somewhat confused regarding the legislation.


25 thoughts on “Legal Deposit – What Is It And Are You Covered?

  1. PorterGirl

    I would be really interested to learn more about this, as I am preparing to publish my first novel. I hope your esteemed readers are able to shed some light!

    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Thanks for your comment and good luck with your novel. If you would like to do a guest post about it do please let me know. I also hope my readers will be able to shed light on this issue.


      1. PorterGirl

        Thank you, that is much appreciated. I am in the early stages at the moment but once I have a cover design and a release date I will let you know. of course, I would love to do a guest post!

  2. davidprosser

    All of my books have been published via Createspace or Lulu neither of which are UK based. I would assume that this means I have no liability to furnish anything to the British Library. The liability doesn’t seem to be on books written in the UK, only published though I too would be interested if anyone has clarified the situation.

    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Thanks for your comment, David. The print edition of my book, “Dalliance: A Collection of Poetry and Prose”, was published in the UK by Berforts so is covered by the legislation. I rather like the idea of maintaining the cultural record. Consequently I was very happy to provide a copy of “Dalliance” to the British Library. Kevin

    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      You are welcome, Tess. I’m glad you found the post useful. When you remember I’d be interested to hear as I suspect countries other than the UK probably have similar legislation. Best. Kevin

    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Many thanks for the reblog and your comment. Sending a copy of a book to the British Library concerns maintaining the historic record/cultural heritage and is a different matter to that of copyright. Kind regards. Kevin

  3. tanyarobinson100

    I would also be interested in learning more about this. I write in the UK and use Amazon’s CreatSpace and Kindle as well as Smashwords to publish. I note in ‘(a)’ ‘with a domain name which relates to the United Kingdom’. My books (both paperback and electronic) are available through Presumably this means the legislation applies. Like you I have no idea if Amazon comply with the requirement so need to look further. Will be interested to hear from anyone who does have experience or more information. Thank you for sharing this as prior to today I had never heard of this ‘Legal Deposit’.

  4. Ali Isaac

    Interesting… I didnt know this. I live in Ireland but my printt books are published in Uk via Feedaread and of course my ebooks are published on so I’m obviously affected by this. Will have to investigate…

    1. indi author

      Hi I’m in ireland too. I self published through lightning source. I had to submit 6 books. One to the British library and 5 to other main university. I was also told to expect to give m a further 13 more.

  5. Jaq

    As it happens, I used to work for the British Library, in the cataloguing department. This was before ebooks became an entity, so I don’t know what changes might have come in to accomodate the format.

    It’s highly unlikely that Amazon would be providing copies. It is not the rtailer’s responsibility, but the publisher’s. If something is self-published, that makes the author the publisher.

    I’m glad you’ve reminded me of this actually. It is to the author’s advantage to be catalogued in the British Library, just like the Library of Congress. The two agencies share cataloguing information too. It’s gets your book on lists. The ones that libraries order from. From this pov, it’s also an advantage to have an isbn, although not strictly required.

  6. Pingback: Legal Deposit. It's the Law. #indie #publishing -

  7. SleepyDragon1320

    Reblogged this on Sleepy Book Dragon and commented:
    Now here’s something I never knew about or have heard about before. Definitely worth reading and keeping an eye on the comments.


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