Non-print Legal Deposit Law approved in Spain

By Mar Pérez Morillo
Jefe del Área de Gestión del Depósito de Publicaciones en Línea, Biblioteca Nacional de España

Last Friday the Spanish Council of Ministers approved the royal decree to regulate the legal deposit of online publications.

In the Legal deposit law of 2011 the online documents were considered objects of legal deposit for the first time in Spain.

The variety and complexity of this kind of publications led to the writing of a legal text (a royal decree) that developed the law and regulated the procedures and details to manage their legal deposit.

In the current technological environment, being the World Wide Web the main way for the dissemination of information, national libraries and archives along with university libraries and research institutions all over the world have been preserving for years the huge documentary heritage that is in internet. The legal deposit has been the instrument used along the centuries to build this documentary heritage on physical formats. Since years, many countries have legislated on the legal deposit of online publications, considering them part of this heritage to be preserved.

Given their special characteristics, the huge amount of them and thus the inability of exhaustiveness when capturing, storing and preserving them, the royal decree just approved in Spain introduces some important differences with the print legal deposit:

  • The publishers are not the ones to deposit the publications but the deposit libraries are the ones to demand from publishers the publications to be deposited.
  • No legal deposit number will be assigned to online publications.
  • The main way to deposit is the automated crawl of the web.
  • When the information is not publicly available online, but is part of a database or is protected by user and password, the curator centres –deposit libraries- (national and regional libraries with competence on legal deposit) will request publishers to deliver the publications.

In advance, the National Library of Spain has been crawling and archiving the Spanish web from 2009 to 2013 thanks to a contract with Internet Archive. The results were eight .es domain crawls and two selective crawls on Humanities and General Elections in 2011. In 2014, the Library adopted and installed NetarchiveSuite as its web archiving tool, and since then several selective crawls have been run on historical and cultural events in Spain, like the death of the President Suárez, the abdication of the King Juan Carlos I, the proclamation of Felipe VI, the European Elections in 2014 and the regional and local elections in May 2015, among others.

Although this was possible under the umbrella of the previous legal deposit law (1957), the royal decree now approved specifically enhances the regional deposit libraries and the National Library of Spain to crawl the web and to request every online publication considered part of the Spanish documentary heritage, to fulfill their mission of preserving it for future generations.
This is the end of a long and winding road, since the first version of the royal decree was drafted in 2012. Since then, many governmental institutions, publishers, individuals and all the sectors involved have sent their comments and allegations to the text.

This would not be a reality today without the support of all of them, but specially the public entity Red.es and the Secretary of State for Telecommunications in Spain, and the IIPC and the NAS community.

This is also the beginning of a long road (hopefully not winding). The success of our preserving mandate relies greatly on the collaboration between libraries and all the stakeholders.

BNE blog post

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