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Italy passed its sole legislation on the legal deposit of online materials in 2006. That legislation calls for the voluntary electronic deposit of materials by online publishers as part of an initial pilot program. This voluntary deposit system is set to operate according to specific agreements between publishers and depository libraries. To facilitate the implementation of this experimental stage of the e-deposit program, a flexible licensing model agreement was developed in 2010. Due to financial constraints affecting the Italian government, the voluntary program remains barely operational, however, and as of 2017 only a handful of online journals had joined.

I. Basic Legislation on Digital Legal Deposit

Presidential Decree No. 252 of 2006[1] overhauled the legal deposit system in Italy, and among other things included rules on the deposit of online content. A report issued by the International Publishers Association (IPA) in 2014 described the essentials of the 2006 Italian legislation concerning the deposit of electronic materials.[2] According to the IPA report, the Italian electronic deposit system seeks to promote “voluntary digital deposit and fixes certain priorities (scholarly publications, existing print titles that have been converted to e-books, publications of public institutions, [and] popular websites).”[3] The report reaffirms that Presidential Decree No. 252 of 2006 creates a “pilot scheme for voluntary deposit . . . to prepare the ground for the later introduction of legal deposit.”[4]

Accordingly, existing legislation provides for voluntary experimentation with the legal deposit of online documents in accordance with rules and procedures established by the Ministry for Cultural Assets and Activities with previous input from the Committee for Legal Deposit.[5] This Committee is composed of “representatives from publishing houses and the Associazione Italiana Editori (AIE – Italian Publishers Association) as well as from Italy’s central national libraries in Rome and Florence.”[6]

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II. Work of the Legal Deposit Committee

The experimental phase established in Presidential Decree No. 252 of 2006 provides for the voluntary adherence by electronic publishers to the terms sets forth in specific agreements between the publishers and the depositing libraries.[7] The Committee met for the first time in 2010 and approved a “flexible licensing model agreement,”[8] which allows user access only on the library premises, with no possibility to copy, download or email content.”[9] The flexible licensing model agreement also allows publishers to license other rights to participating libraries, including (a) delivery of printed copies on request by the user, (b) printed document delivery to other libraries, (c) digital document delivery to other libraries, and (d) online access from the premises of other libraries.[10]

In 2011, the General Directorate of the Book Heritage at the Ministry for Cultural Assets and Activities and the main Italian associations representing publishers signed an agreement to promote voluntary experimentation with the legal deposit of online documents.[11] The agreement also sought to promote the creation of a dark archive at the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana in Venice.[12] To that effect, a “National Coordinating System for the Preservation of Long-Term Access to Digital Resources” was created, with the Magazzini Digitali(Digital Journals) project as one of its first undertakings.[13]

As of 2014, about twenty-five entities had adhered to the e-deposit program;[14] by 2015 about forty-five scientific journals with a total of 6,458 articles archived through harvesting had joined the voluntary e-deposit system.[15] Participation remains low, however; as of February 2017, only 113 journals had joined the program.[16]

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III.  Penalties for Failure to Comply with Print Legal Deposit Obligations

A May 2015 Decree[17] charges the national central libraries with the obligation to detect and warn noncomplying subjects obliged to effectuate legal deposit under the 2006 Presidential Decree, and to include a calculation of the fine to which they are subject.[18] If the subject complies with the obligation within sixty days, the fine is reduced by one-third.[19] In cases of nonpayment, the Ministry of the Treasury undertakes collection procedures.[20] At any rate, the subject must pay the fine and make the legal deposit of the works as prescribed by the law.[21] The subject may challenge the measures before a justice of the peace.[22]

However, due to the voluntary nature of the e-deposit system established in the legislation,[23] these penalties do not apply to the rules on the deposit of online content.

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IV. Current Status of the Pilot Program

According to the IPA,  the Italian government has been unable to finance the pilot e-deposit program due to financial constraints, and the program therefore remains stalled.[24]

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Prepared by Dante Figueroa
Senior Legal Information Analyst
July 2018


[1] Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica 3 maggio 2006, n. 252, Regolamento recante Norme in Materia di Deposito Legale dei Documenti di Interesse Culturale Destinati all’Uso Pubblico [Decree of the President of the Republic No. 252 of May 3, 2006, Regulations on the Legal Deposit of Documents of a Cultural Interest Destined to Public Use] (D.P.R. No. 252), Gazzetta Ufficiale [G.U.] No. 191 (Aug. 18, 2006), http://www.gazzettaufficiale. it/eli/id/2006/08/18/006G0272/sg, archived at https://perma.cc/QWN8-YFZH.

[2] IPA, Digital Legal Deposit(IPA Special Report, July 24, 2014) (IPA Report), https://www.international publishers.org/images/news/2014/digital-legal-deposit-2014.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/S65F-CMJH.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] D.P.R. No. 252, art. 37.

[6] IPA Report, supra note 2.

[7] Giovanni Bergamin & Giovanna Cordani, Magazzini Digitali [Digital Journals] (Feb. 23, 2015), http://www.iccu. sbn.it/opencms/export/sites/iccu/documenti/2015/Magazzini_digitali_Scheda_per_assemblea_dei_poli.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/C6VK-SBQP.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] IPA Report, supra note 2.

[11] Bergamin & Cordani, supra note 7.

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Editori Aderenti [Adhering Publishers], Depositolegale.It, http://www.depositolegale.it/editori-aderenti/ (last modified Jan. 30, 2017), archived at https://perma.cc/V28K-M85J.

[15] Bergamin & Cordani, supra note 7.

[16] Journals, Depositolegale.It, http://www.depositolegale.it/journals/ (last updated Feb. 8, 2017), archived at https://perma.cc/89RP-6ASS.

[17] Decreto 13 maggio 2015 Sanzioni sul Materiale Soggetto a Deposito Legale [Decree of May 13, 2015, Penalties on Materials Subject to Legal Deposit] (Decree of 2015), G.U. No. 122 (May 28, 2015), http://www.gazzetta ufficiale.it/eli/id/2015/05/28/15A03992/sg, archived at https://perma.cc/3UBM-64E8.

[18] Decree of 2015, art. 1 (citing D.P.R. No. 252, art. 44, ¶ 1).

[19] Id. art. 3, ¶ 2.

[20] Id. art. 4.

[21] Id. arts. 7 & 9.

[22] Id. art. 8.

[23] Id. art. 37.

[24] IPA Report, supra note 2.

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Last Updated: 12/30/2020