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Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is the federal institution with the mandate to acquire and preserve the documentary heritage of Canada, which it does pursuant to the Library and Archives of Canada Act and the Legal Deposit of Publications Regulations. Pursuant to the Regulations, which came into force on January 1, 2007, legal deposit applies to publications produced in Canada regardless of the medium or format, and includes online and digital publications.

I. Introduction

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is the federal institution with the mandate to acquire and preserve “the documentary heritage of Canada.”[1] The Library and Archives of Canada Act[2] is the federal statute in Canada “that legally empowers LAC to collect and preserve the nation’s published heritage.”[3] Under the Act, the Legal Deposit of Publications Regulations[4]“define the classes of publications which publishers are required to send to LAC for deposit and those which are not required unless requested in writing by the Librarian and Archivist of Canada.”[5]

On January 1, 2007, the date when the Regulations came into force, “legal deposit was extended to online or Internet publications. All Canadian publishers are required to deposit copies of their online publications with Library and Archives Canada.”[6]

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II. Digital Legal Deposit Requirements

According to the LAC website, legal deposit applies to publications produced in Canada “regardless of medium or format” and includes “online or digital publications.”[7] Under the Act a “publication” is defined as

any library matter that is made available in multiple copies or at multiple locations, whether without charge or otherwise, to the public generally or to qualifying members of the public by subscription or otherwise. Publications may be made available through any medium and may be in any form, including printed material, on-line items or recordings.[8]

“Publisher” under the Regulations “means a person who makes a publication available in Canada that the person is authorized to reproduce or over which the person controls the content. It does not include a person who only distributes a publication.”[9] 

A. Two Copy Requirement

Section 10(1) of the Act establishes a statutory obligation to provide two copies of a publication for legal deposit:

10 (1) Subject to the regulations, the publisher who makes a publication available in Canada shall, at the publisher’s own expense, provide two copies of the publication to the Librarian and Archivist—who shall acknowledge their receipt—within

(a) in any case other than one referred to in paragraph (b) [referring to a special class of publications only subject to deposit on request from the Librarian and Archivist], seven days after the day it is made available;[10]

Section 10(4) stipulates that, “[f]or the purposes of this section, every version, edition or form of a publication shall be considered a distinct publication.”[11] Therefore, digital versions of print publications must be deposited and every format of that digital publication would be considered a distinct publication.

B. One Copy Requirement

Only one copy is required to be provided if only between four and ninety-nine copies of a publication are produced or if it is an online publication.[12] In this situation as well, “[w]here publications exist in both physical and digital formats, both mediums should be deposited.”[13]

C. Two Copies on Request

Two copies may also be required on request from the Librarian and Archivist when fewer than four copies of a publication have been produced, or if the material falls within the following categories of online or digital material:

(x) deliberations of electronic discussion groups, listservs, bulletin boards and e-mails;

(y) websites, including portals, personal websites, service sites, intranets and websites consisting primarily of links to other sites; and

(z) dynamic databases and raw data.[14]

In the case of a publication that is in this class, copies must be provided within “seven days after receiving a written request from the Librarian and Archivist or any longer period specified in the request.”[15]

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III. Process for Deposit of Online or Digital Publications 

According to section 2 of the Regulations, “[i]n order to make a publication and its contents that uses a medium other than paper accessible to the Librarian and Archivist,”[16] the publisher is required to,

(a)  before providing a copy of the publication to the Librarian and Archivist,

(i) decrypt encrypted data contained in the publication, and

(ii) remove or disable security systems or devices that are designed to restrict or limit access to the publication; and

(b)  when providing a copy of the publication to the Librarian and Archivist,

(i) provide a copy of software specifically created by the publisher that is necessary to access the publication,

(ii) provide a copy of technical or other information necessary to access the publication, including a copy of manuals that accompany the publication, and

(iii) provide any available descriptive data about the publication including its title, creator, language, date of publication, format, subject and copyright information.[17]

The LAC website provides the following instructions for the deposit of online or digital publications:

  • Digital publications should not be printed and sent. Instead, the digital format in which the publication was published should be deposited.
  • LAC currently prefers Adobe PDF and EPUB formats for digital publications. Publications are archived in the portable format in which they are received.
  • Where publications exist in both digital and physical formats, both mediums should be deposited.
  • Publications in formats for the Web (*HTML, XML, PHP, ASP, etc.) should not be deposited:
    • Where portable formats exist of the same publication (Adobe PDF or EPUB), these should be deposited instead.
    • Where the publication only exists in formats for the Web, please contact the Digital Legal Deposit section to discuss harvesting arrangements.[18]

The website also provides the following options for the submission of digital publications to LAC:

  • Online via the Digital Collection’s Upload platform (files 200 MB or less at a time) (archived site):
    . . .
  • FTP for large quantities of files
    . . .
  • Email (mostly for subscriptions)
  • CD-ROM or other storage devices, via regular mail (these are not returned to the publisher)[19]

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IV. Accessibility of Digital Legal Deposit Materials

LAC offers publishers a choice of two types of access levels for their digital publications, which publishers need to specify:

  • Open access: anyone can view and download the publication through the Web. Whenever possible, we ask publishers to select this option.
  • Restricted access (usually for retail titles): publications are viewable by the public only at select terminals at LAC’s main building in Ottawa. It is not possible to print, download or transfer files from these terminals.[20]

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Prepared by Tariq Ahmad
Foreign Law Specialist
July 2018


[1] Library and Archives Canada, Government of Canada, https://www.canada.ca/en/library-archives.html (last updated Dec. 21, 2017), archived at https://perma.cc/3N2P-9LTL.

[2] Library and Archives of Canada Act, S.C. 2004, c. 11, http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/L-7.7/FullText.html, archived at https://perma.cc/NV6V-YWJ9.

[3] Legal Deposit, Library and Archives Canada, http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/services/legal-deposit/Pages/legal-deposit.aspx (last updated Feb. 22, 2018), archived at https://perma.cc/P3LN-ZAWK.

[4] Legal Deposit of Publications Regulations (SOR/2006-337), http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2006-337/FullText.html, archived at https://perma.cc/26T3-L8ZQ

[5] Legal Deposit, supra note 3.

[6] Frequently Asked Questions: Legal Deposit of Online Publications (Archived Content), Library and Archives Canada, https://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/electroniccollection/003008-1002-e.html (last updated June 11, 2009), archived at https://perma.cc/X7X8-2YSW.

[7] Legal Deposit, supra note 3.

[8] Library and Archives of Canada Act § 2 (emphasis added).

[9] Legal Deposit of Publications Regulations, supra note 4, § 1.

[10] Library and Archives of Canada Act §10(1)(a).

[11] Id. § 10(4).

[12] Legal Deposit of Publications Regulations, supra note 4, § 3.

[13] Deposit of Physical or Analogue Publications, Library and Archives Canada, http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/ services/legal-deposit/Pages/physical-analogue.aspx (last updated Nov. 9, 2017), archived at https://perma.cc/KWY3-GCPJ.

[14] Legal Deposit of Publications Regulations, supra note 4, § 4(x)–(z).

[15] Library and Archives of Canada Act § 10(1)(b).

[16] Legal Deposit of Publications Regulations, supra note 4, § 2(a)–(b).

[17] Deposit of Online or Digital Publications, Library and Archives Canada, http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/ services/legal-deposit/Pages/online-digital-publications.aspx (last updated Nov. 9, 2017), archived at https://perma.cc/7HNL-EA8R.

[18] Id.

[19] Id.

[20] Id.

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Last Updated: 12/30/2020