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Australia considers national digital archive

Copyright Act amendment could see all electronic publications in National Library

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Australia's Legal Deposit requirement, which compels publishers to send copies of all books to the National Library, may be extended to digital works.

The potential extension of the Legal Deposit is discussed in a new Consultation Paper issued by the Federal Attorney General's Department.

The current scheme is a decidedly pre-digital arrangement, as it says Legal Deposit applies to any “book, periodical, newspaper, pamphlet, sheet of letter-press, sheet of music, map, plan, chart or table, being a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work."

Attorney General Nicola Roxon has noticed the rise of electronic publications and says “Australian readers, authors, publishers and creators are increasingly adapting to the realities of the 21st century digital environment."

"I think it is important that the current legal deposit scheme should adapt as well.”

The consultation paper suggests that DVDs and CD-ROMs be subject to the same mandatory lodgement provisions that now apply to books. Publishers of electronic publications that are never produced as physical artefacts would be made an offer they cannot refuse to provide a copy, if their output is considered worthy of preservation. “Cultural importance and collecting priorities” are advanced as criteria for selection.

Australia's National Library already operates PANDORA, an archive of websites and other digital material that is selectively curated.

Parties wishing to have their say on the proposal have until April 14th to do so.

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