electronic Legal Deposit FAQs

Q. How do I find this content in the Bodleian Libraries catalogue?
For information and an induction on how to access and use electronic Legal Deposit, please refer to our LibGuides pages. Help on searching is available in Oxford LibGuides - Electronic Legal Deposit.

Q. What is excluded from the legislation?
Web sites and other materials which solely consist of audio/visual content (for example YouTube). However, where audio or video clips are embedded within, for example a normal web page, it will be covered. A good example of this is videos embedded in news items on the BBC web site.

Q. Can I read the full-text on any machine, including my own laptop or from home?
No. Online users are able to search catalogue records in SOLO and identify deposited content, but due to the terms of the legislation the full-text itself can only be read on library PCs (including Quick Search PCs) available in Bodleian Libraries. Electronic legal deposit books, journals and web content cannot be made available beyond the physical premises of Bodleian Libraries under the terms of current legal deposit legislation. You can't access it from your own laptop or other devices, whether you are in one of the Bodleian Libraries or at home.

The exception to this rule is the Legal Deposit UK Web Archive (LDUKWA), which has no catalogue records in SOLO. Readers can make use of the British Library's catalogue to explore the contents of the LDUKWA remotely, or visit one of the six legal deposit libraries to explore the LDUKWA directly. See Using the Legal Deposit UK Web Archive.

Q. How many articles can I access in a day?
Unlike printed material, there is no limit to the number of non-print legal deposit items you can access in a day.

Q. I want to look at a particular article, but I'm told that it's already in use. When will it be available for me to see? 
Only one person at a time can view each item, and there's no time limit set (within a day) for how long an item can be consulted. Once the person using it has finished, and closes down the item, it will become available for another reader to consult.

Q. Can I make a reservation for an eLD item, to ensure that it is available when I come in to view it?
No. This is something the Libraries are investigating. Items will be available on a first come, first served basis.

Q. Can I print out from the resources?
Yes. However, under the regulations, printing is restricted and you will have to accept the terms and conditions governing the printing of this content every time you print something out. The regulations permit users to print out one copy of a reasonable portion of any deposited work, for non-commercial research or other defined purposes such as criticism and review or journalism; extra copies may be printed for use in court proceedings or statutory enquiries.

A step-by-step guide to printing from eLD resources can be accessed here: eLD printing guide. 

Q. Can I save this article to a memory stick? 
No, downloading or digital copying of electronic legal deposit material is not permitted.

Q. When is deposited content made available?
Under legal deposit, websites and deposited electronic publications are not accessible for at least seven days after they are deposited or harvested. After then, they may be made available to users of the Legal Deposit Libraries.

Q. Where is deposited content made available?
The Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 defines a reader as "a person who, for the purposes of research or study and with the permission of a deposit library, is on library premises controlled by it", and the Legal Deposit Libraries (Non-Print Works) Regulations 2013 set out the terms on which works may be displayed for readers "on library premises controlled by the deposit library".

This means that deposited works may not be made available online externally, including for readers logging in remotely. They can only be viewed on the premises of the six deposit libraries defined in clause 14 of the Act and, for legal publications, the library of the Faculty of Advocates.

The Secretary of State has confirmed that "these Regulations do not unreasonably prejudice the interests of persons who publish works to which these Regulations relate". Relevant considerations include the scope (i.e. number and spread) of locations in which deposited material may be used, and the security arrangements governing access in those locations. In connection with these, if in future any change is proposed that a member of the Joint Committee on Legal Deposit regards as unreasonably prejudicing publishers' interests, the Joint Committee will discuss the proposals in accordance with the dispute resolution process and, if appropriate, ask the Secretary of State to review the Regulations.

Q. How is deposited content made available?
The 2013 Regulations stipulate that "A deposit library must ensure that only one computer terminal is available to readers to access the same relevant material at any one time". This is not intended to restrict the use of all legal deposit material to a single computer terminal in each deposit library, but rather to displaying the same individual work on just one screen at a time-i.e. for one reader at a time-within each Legal Deposit Library. Restrictions have been put in place by the legislation not the library.

For handheld publications, concurrent access is suitably restricted by the physical medium on which it is carried, such as a CD-ROM, memory card or microfilm.

For other electronic publications, the demarcation of an individual work or "same relevant material" will normally be determined by the manner in which it is published for users, and received on deposit. For example an electronic book may be published either as a single work, or chapter by chapter. Where relevant material is published - and therefore harvested or deposited - as a single composition, the deposit libraries will not deconstruct it into separate elements for the purposes of displaying the parts on different screens for more readers to use it. Equally, where relevant material is published at a more granular level, the deposit libraries will not aggregate the separate elements in order to construct an artificial work. For example, concurrent access in the case of an electronic journal that is published as a single issue containing a number of articles would be controlled at the level of that issue; but concurrent access for an electronic journal that is published on an article by article basis would be controlled at the level of an individual article.

Where the demarcation of "same relevant material" is not immediately apparent, the deposit libraries will construe it as the file or group of files needed to communicate a particular subject matter in a complete, cohesive and intelligible way, subject to a technical means of delineating this. For web-based material, this would normally mean the web page (such as a news article) that would be displayed when the user follows a link or enters a URL. This would include embedded ("transcluded") content that displays within the same tab or window as its contextual material. But an embedded or linked file whose content, when opened, displays in a separate tab or window would normally be treated as a separate item.

Q. How is this material collected and stored?

Items deposited under Electronic Legal Deposit (eLD) are collected from publishers or self-submitted via an online portal and then processed at the British Library. The digital objects themselves (e.g. PDFs for journal articles, e-books in epub format etc) are stored on specially-commissioned servers at the British Library datacentres in London and Yorkshire and replicated to similar nodes at the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales.

Metadata (i.e. catalogue records) for the ingested items is then made available to the legal Deposit Libraries to be incorporated and indexed in their local discovery services. At Oxford new records for eLD items are added to SOLO on a daily basis by a scheduled process which checks the British Library servers for new metadata and processes the records accordingly.

When users view an eLD item in SOLO then that item is being served from the British Library servers via a secure delivery mechanism which ensures that access and use complies with the relevant legislative requirements.

Q. What is the lifespan of eLD material and will it be readable in the future?

It is the aim of the Legal Deposit Libraries to preserve all printed and electronic Legal Deposit collections and make them available in perpetuity. As time goes on, content may have to be migrated to different formats if that is what will keep it accessible or copies of relevant software to read the material will need to be maintained. To this end the British Library has a digital preservation department who specifically looks at the long-term preservation and access to digital content.

Q. If I need further help, who should I contact?

You can ask library staff in reading rooms or contact Legal Deposit Operations.

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