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Japan’s National Diet Library (NDL) Law describes the country’s online publication deposit system.[1]  “Online publications” are defined as

texts, images, sounds, or programs recorded by electronic, magnetic, or any other means not directly open to human perception, made available to the public or transmitted through the Internet and other advanced information and telecommunications networks, and specified by the Chief Librarian as corresponding to books or serials (except confidential matters, blank forms, specimen pages and other simple publications).[2] 

Since July 1, 2013, any person who has made online publications available to the public or transmitted them through the internet or other information and telecommunications networks  has been required to provide copies to the NDL.[3]  The NDL records this material on its media.[4]  A person who has provided online publications may be reimbursed in an amount equivalent to the expenses usually required for the provision of such a publication.[5]

However, for the time being, online publications that are made available to the public or transmitted for value, or those to which access is restricted or for which copying is restricted by technological measures, are exempt from the deposit obligation,[6] due to the fact that there are issues concerning the method of compensation for, and the collection and preservation of, such publications.[7] 

The NDL began the experimental collection of these excluded online publications through the Electronic Book Publishers Association of Japan on December 1, 2015.  Publishers and authors voluntarily provide content to the Electronic Book Publishers Association for the NDL collection.  NDL visitors can browse such online publications.[8]  The experimental collection of these materials is to conclude in January 2030.[9]

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Prepared by Sayuri Umeda
Foreign Law Specialist
July 2018


[1] 国立国会図書館法 [National Diet Library Act], Act No. 5 of 1948, amended by Act No. 40 of 2014, art. 25-4, http://www.ndl.go.jp/en/aboutus/laws.html, archived at https://perma.cc/L8ZK-7Y5W.

[2] Id. art. 25-4, para. 1.

[3] Id. & Supp. Provisions, arts. 1 & 3.

[4] Id. art. 25-4, para. 3.

[5] Id. 25-4, para. 4.

[6] Id. Supp. Provision art. 2.

[7] Press Release, NDL, 電子書籍・電子雑誌収集実証実験事業の開始について [Regarding Starting of Experiment of Collection of Electronic Books and Electronic Magazines] at 2 (Nov. 30, 2015), http://www.ndl. go.jp/jp/news/fy2015/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2015/11/24/pr151130.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/G9DT-3F76.

[8] Id. at 1.

[9] Id. at 2.

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Last Updated: 12/30/2020