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Legal Deposit in South Africa: Publishers & LD

This Guide provides information about legislation, application and enforcement of the Legal Deposit Act and useful resources for publishers, librarians and others involved in compliance with this legislation.

Requirements of Legal Deposit Act

Publishers' responsibilities in terms of Section 2  of the Legal Deposit Act

Deposit of documents and information 

2. (1) A publisher shall for each published document supply to the
prescribed places of legal deposit the prescribed number of copies in the format
and of the quality prescribed for each version and type of medium: Provided that
the prescribed number of copies of documents other than official publications
shall not exceed five.

(2) A publisher shall for each published document furnish the State Library
with the prescribed information pertaining to that document.


3. The cost of documents supplied in terms of section 2 (1) and of the
information furnished in terms of section 2 (2) and of the supply and furnishing of
such documents and information shall be borne by the publisher.

Time of Deposit

4. Unless otherwise prescribed, the publisher shall dispatch a document
contemplated in section 2 (1) and furnish the information contemplated in section
2 (2) within 14 days of the day on which the document is published.


5. (1) (a) If, owing to the high unit cost of publishing any particular
document, or its unique or labour-intensive production method, the publisher of
such document is likely to suffer serious financial or other hardship should he or
she supply a copy of the document free of charge to every place of legal deposit
in terms of section 2 (1), the Minister may, upon application from the publisher
and after consultation with the Committee, exempt such publisher from the
obligation to supply a copy of such document to such place or places of legal
deposit as may be specified by the Minister.

(b) The Minister shall not exempt a publisher under paragraph (a) from his
or her obligation to supply a copy of a document to the South African Library or
the National Film, Video and Sound Archives, as the case may be, and to furnish
the State Library with the information contemplated in section 2 (2).

Deposits - How Many and Where?

Where do you deposit and how many copies?

If you have published 100+ print copies, you are obliged to deposit 1 (one) copy in each legal deposit library.

Please note:  The National Film, Video and Sound Archives only receives audio-visual material. 

All e-publications must be deposited at the National Library of South Africa (Pretoria) via Marietjie de Beer at

Role players in the legal deposit process

Benefits for Publishers and Authors

There are benefits for publishers and authors, namely:-


  • Deposited publications are made available to users of the Legal Deposit libraries on their premises, are preserved for the benefit of future generations, and become part of the nation's heritage
  • E-deposits are made accessible with certain security requirements to protect the works
  • Publications are recorded in the online catalogues, and become an essential research resource for generations to come
  • Most of the books and new serial titles are listed in the National Library of South Africa's bibliography, which is used by librarians and the book trade for stock selection. 
  • Commercial and self-published works receive wide exposure.
  • Publishers may approach Legal Deposit libraries for copies of their own publications which they may no longer have, but which have been preserved through legal deposit
  • Legal deposit supports a cycle of knowledge, whereby deposited works provide inspiration and source material for new books and research that will eventually achieve publication.
  • Publishers and authors contribute to the collection and preservation of South Africa's published cultural heritage for perpetuity. 
  • Availability of all South African publications in Legal Deposit libraries provides a 'marketing tool' to promote authors' works to readers (particularly new works and new authors).

 (Adapted from Benefits for Publishers -