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All works under copyright protection published in the United States are subject to the mandatory deposit provision of the copyright law. Two copies of each work must be sent to the Library of Congress’ Copyright Office within three months of publication. (17 U.S.Code § 407)

Legal deposit has existed in the U.K. since 1662. In England, a copy of every print publication must be deposited with the British Library, and there are five other institutions that may also request a copy of all publications. In 2013, legislation was passed that also provided for deposit of material published digitally and online.

The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) updated its Guidelines for Legal Deposit Legislation in 2000 to address “the issue of electronic format . . . [and] assist countries as they develop, update and revise their legal deposit legislation.” The IFLA Statement on Legal Deposit (2011) states that “Legal deposit is critical for the preservation of and access to a nation’s documentary heritage . . . electronic publications are a major and integral component of a nation’s documentary heritage, and therefore must be included in legal deposit arrangements.”

Legal Deposit Law in the United States does not provide a statutory obligation for any publisher or creator of digitally born material to deposit their work product in a recognized national institution. Fair use and opt-out based systems are used to collect web archives. A number of institutions in this country are working to improve the tools, standards and best practices of web archiving.

The United States Government Publishing Office (GPO) administers the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) in order to provide access to print and electronic material published by the federal government. With the creation of “All or Mostly Online Federal Depository Libraries” , the FDLP has addressed the shift towards the publication of online resources as it relates to government publications.

Twenty-seven institutions in Massachusetts are selective depository libraries, including Mass. Trial Court’s Hampden Law Library.

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