Detailed digital deposits

In Sweden, an act on deposits of digital material was implemented in July 2012. During an initial trial period, a number of institutions, national agencies and media corporations will be delivering content. The idea is to allow time for the development and implementation of effective delivery and deposit routines by 2015, when the legislation is to come fully into effect.

The new legislation for the deposit of digital material is a complement to the original deposit legislation. Legal deposit legislation has been in place in Sweden since the first law was enacted, in 1661. It stipulated that two copies of all printed material produced in the country should be sent to the crown. Over the years, the law has been revised to also include sound, moving images and, today, digital material.

“The process has taken much longer than we had hoped: very few of the interim legal deposit content deliverers have started carrying out the deposit. This is partly because they haven’t set up an organization and they lack technical solutions. It has also been difficult for us here at the National Library because we have several technical systems that need to be synchronized,” says Boel Larsson, Programme manager legal deposits at the National Library of Sweden.

“Fully 98 percent of the interim deliverers want to deliver through networks, and they are probably quite representative of what awaits in 2015. Our aim is that the majority of the interim deliverers will be able to deliver by end of May this year.”

Not everything published online is subject to the legal deposit requirements at the Swedish National Library: subject to delivery are materials published solely in digital media – for example, web articles, pdf files, radio podcasts and Web TV. The material must also have Swedish relevance.

“What they deliver is not whole Websites or databases; a large quantity of what we get delivered is news and feature articles, blog posts that correspond to articles, pod radio and Web clippings. The common denominator is that the delivered material must be completed and permanent.”

Demands for deliverers

There are three groups of deliverers. One is publishers, who already deliver analogue publications. These may be organizations, associations, book publishers and media houses. Another group is those who professionally produce electronic publications, such as e-book publishers or Web magazines.

The third group is government authorities, and for them the rules are a little different. Their delivered material is also required to be completed and permanent, but the material must be proper authority publications – for example, reports, PhD dissertations, working papers, information material, guidelines or instructional films – publications that are typical for authorities.

“One important difference between government authorities and other legal deposit content deliverers is that the authorities must deliver the same material in both digital and analogue formats; others are only obliged to deliver what is unique for the Web.”

Early practitioner

The National Library of Sweden started harvesting Swedish websites in 1997. Content is gathered by a program that runs at set intervals. It searches and archives Swedish content published on the Internet. The new legal deposit law differs from this type of media harvesting, as the media producers themselves are required to deliver their content.

In an international perspective, the National Library of Sweden was an early practitioner of this type of Web archiving, but much of today’s Web content is not extractable by Web-archiving programs, such as streamed films or websites that require passwords. Therefore, the new law is necessary to render it possible to study the materials in the future.

“Many countries have deposit laws for digital material, but not on such a detailed level where you demand delivery of, for example, particular articles,” Boel Larsson says.According to the law, the digital deposits should be delivered on a physical data carrier, but the National Library of Sweden will also provide delivery channels through data transfer. Photo: Annika Hjerpe

Editor-in-chief National Library of Sweden

Boel Larsson, Programme manager legal deposits at the National Library of Sweden. Photo: Annika Hjerpe