Legal deposit

The following IIPC members collect web archives as part of their country’s legal deposit legislation:

Country Notes Resources

Australia’s legal deposit provisions form part of the Commonwealth of Australia’s Copyright Act, 1968 (ss195CA-195CJ). Since February 2016 legal deposit provisions have applied to digital material including online content. For online material to be subject to legal deposit, copyright should subsist under the Act (and is not therefore restricted to the .au web domain) and the Director-General of the National Library consider that it should be included in the national collection of library materials in accordance with the functions of the Library as set out in the National Library Act, 1960. Publishers are only required to deposit online materials when requested by the Director-General; however, the Act states that the request to deposit may be made by electronic communication and by a user agent (robot) request.

Legal deposit provisions per se do not refer to access; however section 200AB of the Copyright Act, 1968 provides an exemption for the Library for the purpose of maintaining or operating the Library including services of a kind usually provided by the Library. Use of this exemption must be made in accordance with Article 13 of the TRIPS Agreement.

Austria Since 2009. Access on-site in ONB; access should be widened to 20 regional libraries.
Canada Since 2004. Allows web archiving and extends legal deposit to online publications; can demand passwords/technical information. Legislation does not cover public access provisions. See Canada – Québec on next chart for additional information.
Croatia Since 1997. Access via Internet,  permission not required. In case of publisher’s restrictions, access on-site only (one user at the time).
Denmark Since 2004. Allows harvesting and demand for passwords and other information from publishers. Access only by researchers on individual application.
Estonia Since 2006. The legal deposit copy of the web publication may be used in the premises of the legal deposit libraries and may be made  accessible to the public on the basis of the authorization of the copyright holder.
Finland Legal deposit law allows harvesting; copyright law allows copying for preservation.

Access to the archived documents and the full text index is only in the premises of the legal deposit libraries. It is possible to check from anywhere a website or document has been harvested certain URL (and which versions are available). Although not part of the legislation, there are practices when it comes to deleting documents from the web archive. The practices applied may vary; removal of illegal materials and occasionally, on request, documents which were never meant to be publicly available in the Web.

France Since 2006. Responsibility shared between l’Institut national de l’audiovisuel (INA) and the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF). Access on-site and limited to accredited users.

(Internet Memory Foundation, a not-for-profit body based in France and the Netherlands, is not covered by legal deposit legislation.)

Germany Legal deposit since 2006. Harvesting since 2012. Access on-site as well as in the reading rooms of those regional libraries who cooperate in web archiving with the DNB.
Iceland Since 2002. Access both on-site and via Internet.
Japan Since 2010. Allows harvesting government and government-related institutions websites.

(Permission required for access through Internet).

In 2012, Law amended: The National Diet Library authorized to archive e-books published in Japan. (Coming into force in July 2013)

New Zealand Since August 2006. Allows web harvesting and extends legal deposit to electronic publications. If the document is openly available online, or the owner has given permission, then the archived copy will be available online. If online access to the document is restricted, then the archived copy will be restricted to 3 concurrent users within the Katherine Mansfield Reading Room at the National Library in Wellington.
Norway Legal deposit since 1990. Harvesting since 2002. A revised version of the Norwegian Act on Legal Deposit came into force 1st January 2016. The new law enables the National Library of Norway (NLN) to do full domain harvests of the Norwegian top level domain (.no), as well as to collect websites outside the .no-domain that are either owned by Norwegian institutions or individuals, or adapted to Norwegian users. The revised law also makes it possible for the NLN to make the web archive available for research and documentation purposes.
Portugal Since 2013, Decree-law 55/2013 of the Portuguese Republic mandates FCT to promote the preservation of content available
on the national Internet, ensuring its availability to the scientific community and the general public.
Serbia Legal deposit law since 2011. Allows harvesting, can demand passwords and/or access to password-protected content.
Slovenia Legal deposit law since 2006. Allows harvesting, can demand passwords and/or  access to password protected content. Deposit is also possible.

Online access, owner can restrict access to on-site only.

Spain Harvesting since 2009 under the general Legal Deposit law. Since 2015, under the Royal Decree regulating legal deposit of online publications. Legal deposit competencies are shared between National Library of Spain (BNE) and regional libraries. Allows harvesting, permission not required. Copyright law allows copying for preservation. In case of publisher’s restrictions the Library can demand passwords and/or  access to password protected content. Deposit is also possible in such cases. Access on-site should be given at BNE and regional libraries.

More information (English):

Sweden Can collect but no access.
United Kingdom IIPC Members:

  • British Library
  • U.K. National Archives
  • The National Library of Scotland
  • Hanzo Archives (Commercial web archiving service)

Access to Legal Deposit content is provided on Legal Deposit Libraries’ premises.

From 6 April 2013, legal deposit also covers material published digitally and online, so that the Legal Deposit Libraries can provide a national archive of the UK’s non-print published material, such as websites, blogs, e-journals and CD-ROMs. UK Legal Deposit Libraries include

  • The British Library
  • Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford
  • Cambridge University Library
  • The National Library of Scotland
  • The Library of Trinity College, Dublin
  • The National Library of Wales

More information

The following member countries use permission, fair use or opt-out based systems to collect web archives. Many are awaiting legal deposit legislation:

Country Notes Resources
Canada – Québec Currently permission-based for digitals publications since 2001 and for Web sites since 2009. Hoping law on legal deposit will be extended to permit archiving of digitals publications and web sites.Authorization of the editors to disseminate the digital publications and web sites is required.

See Canada on previous chart for additional information.

China No legislation about web archiving.
Czech Republic Websites can be crawled and accessed on-site without permission. Permissions to provide access off-site sought for selective crawls. Websites from selective harvest for which permission to provide off-site access was not granted, as well as all domain crawls and topical collections, can be accessed on the library premises.
Egypt The Bibliotheca Alexandrina hosts mirror of Internet Archive
Netherlands Access on-site; aim to have Internet access in the future.

IIPC Members:

  • National Library of the Netherlands
  • The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
  • (Commercial web archiving service)
Poland Legal Deposit Law since 1996, doesn’t cover web archiving.
Singapore Currently permission-based, hoping law on legal deposit will be extended to electronic publications.
South Korea
Switzerland Fair use approach, sending information to website owner before harvesting. Access only on-site and in partner libraries.
United States IIPC Members:

  • Columbia University
  • Harvard University Libraries
  • Internet Archive
  • Library of Congress
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory Library
  • Old Dominion University, Department of Computer Science
  • Stanford University Libraries
  • UCLA Research Library
  • University of North Texas Libraries

Each have different archiving and access policies.

Sample policies:

Library of Congress:

Site owners notified of intent to crawl; in some cases permission is required for archiving and for offsite access. Government websites (U.S. Federal, State, and Local) archived without notification or permission.

More information

 IFLA STATEMENT ON LEGAL DEPOSIT (Endorsed by the Governing Board of IFLA, at its meeting in Den Haag, The Netherlands, 7th December 2011.)


 Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society.