Deposit copy

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A deposit copy is a copy of a publication that, due to a law or other public law regulation, has to be given by its publisher (or less often by the manufacturer) to certain libraries in the country or region in which it was published. The legal deposit right arose during the early modern period in Europe and is now widely used internationally.

With a few exceptions, the submission is free of charge. The purpose of the legal deposit right today is primarily the archiving of all publications of a country as complete as possible as evidence of cultural creation, their bibliographic documentation and the making available for the general public. The libraries are therefore legally obliged to keep deposit copies indefinitely and to compile a national bibliography .


The first known legal deposit regulation has come down to us from France, where Francis I ordered printed works to be handed over to the royal library in 1537. Legal deposit regulations have also spread in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation since the 17th century .

Legal deposit regulations were initially often connected with the so-called privilege system, in which printers and publishers asked the sovereign for protection against pirated prints in return for their publications, as well as with censorship , since printed works were also systematically collected with the help of these two legal institutions . Over time, this connection was replaced by the collection and archiving purpose. Legal deposit regulations thus created the basis for the collections of many national and state libraries and are now widespread in almost all cultural states in the world.

Initially, the obligation to submit only related to printed works. With the advent of new types of media, many legal deposit regulations were also extended to other forms of publication, e.g. B. expanded audio and electronic media. Recently, this has also increasingly been the case for online publications.


Statutory deposit copy regulations exist in Germany at both the state and federal level. The legal deposit right at the federal level is exercised by the German National Library , the legal deposit right at the state level is generally exercised by the state libraries of the individual federal states, although the state regulations differ greatly from one another.


The first German legal deposit regulation in the true sense of the word is a Bavarian regulation from 1663, which stipulated the free delivery of all printed works to the court library in Munich, the predecessor of the Bavarian State Library . Regulations followed in most of the principalities and territories of Germany during the 18th and 19th centuries. According to Section 30 (3) of the Reichspreßgesetz , these state legal provisions remained in force even after the establishment of the Reich in 1871. In the Kingdom of Prussia , the Kingdom of Bavaria , the Kingdom of Württemberg and the Grand Duchy of Hesse , the publishers producing in the respective territories were obliged to deliver specimen copies to the responsible state library. In the Kingdom of Saxony , Grand Duchy of Baden , Grand Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin and the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg did not exist for this scheme. A good sixth of German publishing house production was not subject to any statutory deposit regulations.

At that time there was no nationwide German legal deposit law. In 1912, the Börsenverein der Deutschen Buchhandels laid the foundation for a national library collection through agreements with German publishers to hand over printed works to the Deutsche Bücherei in Leipzig , but initially without any statutory delivery obligation. 1935–1945 there was also a supplementary order from the Reich Chamber of Culture , the professional organization of the Nazi regime for cultural workers, which obliged those under its control, if they published printed works, to also deliver a copy of them to Leipzig.

After the end of the Second World War , new legal deposit regulations were first issued in all federal states in the Federal Republic of Germany, mostly within the framework of the respective state press laws. In 1969, the obligation to pay the German Library in Frankfurt, which had been organized under private law by the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels until then, was put on a legal basis by means of the German Library Act , thus for the first time anchoring a statutory deposit regulation under federal law.

In 1981, the statutory deposit regulation of the State of Hesse gave the Federal Constitutional Court an opportunity to make a landmark decision in state liability law . At that time, the Hessian regulation had provided no compensation for the submission of the deposit copy; on the other hand turned a publisher who had given a high-priced book in only a small edition. The deposit copy decision justified the figure of the so-called content and limitation determination subject to compensation . Since then, all German legal deposit regulations at the federal and state level provide for compensation regulations for the legal deposit, which, however, are structured differently.

In the GDR, according to various provisional predecessor regulations, from 1960 until the reunification there was a uniform state legal deposit law, the regulation on the delivery of legal deposit copies . A law regulates the delivery to central libraries, such as the German Library and the German State Library , as well as delivery to the respective state libraries.

The law on the German library has been in a new version since June 29, 2006 as the law on the German National Library (DNBG) and expressly includes "incorporeal media works" ( i.e. online publications ) in the collection mandate .

In some statutory deposit copy regulations of the federal states, online publications have also been included as groupage items that are subject to mandatory deposit, e.g. B. in Hamburg, Thuringia and Baden-Württemberg.

Media covered

The statutory duty to pay covers almost all publicly published print media and some non-print media, such as audio books and publications on CD-ROM. The types of media to be delivered vary, however, in some cases in the individual laws and ordinances, e.g. B. in the case of film media collected in some countries and not in others.

So-called commercial printed matter , e.g. B. pure advertising material and forms. Online commercial jobs are also used in the area of ​​online publications, e.g. B. Intranet pages and purely private homepages, excluded from the collective order.

The complete collection of all other publications according to purely formal criteria and their listing in the national bibliography, which was not carried out by the large libraries such as the Prussian State Library before 1912 , largely ensures that works are passed on that only later prove to be valuable (the collection of so-called “ junk literature ” and new media, such as comics and videos, which has only begun with some delay , shows that this is not done without resistance).


Dissertations that are to be submitted to the university awarding the doctoral degree due to regulations (statutes) are often also referred to as deposit copies. They are distributed to various university libraries to make the dissertation accessible to science. Apart from the statutory deposit regulation of the German National Library, dissertations are therefore excluded from the statutory deposit, unless they appear in regular publishing booksellers. The exchange of documents between the university libraries is nevertheless intended to ensure that copies of the dissertation are permanently stored and remain accessible. Thus, rumors that are circulating that certain prominent persons have had their dissertation "blocked" or have given instructions to remove all copies from the libraries are not correct.


Two mandatory copies of every publication published in Germany must be submitted at the federal level to the responsible location of the German National Library (DNB). At the state level, one copy usually has to be submitted to the relevant regional library of the federal state in which the work was published (see table below), with the exception of Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, where the obligation to submit includes two copies.

According to § 15 DNBG, “those who are entitled to distribute the media work or make it publicly available”, i.e. the publisher, or in the case of so-called “gray” literature, ie literature published outside the book trade, the publishing institution or the self-publisher, are required to submit.

Deposit copy libraries in Germany
state Responsible DNB location State regulation (s)
Baden-Württemberg Frankfurt am Main Legal deposit law Baden-Württemberg: Depending on the administrative region of the publication, two copies must be submitted to the Badische Landesbibliothek in Karlsruhe or the Württembergische Landesbibliothek in Stuttgart. The copy for the other library is then forwarded.
Bavaria Frankfurt am Main Two copies are to be delivered to the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich in accordance with the Bavarian mandatory pieces law. One copy remains with the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. The second copy will be forwarded to the relevant collective library.
Berlin Leipzig A copy must be given to the Central and State Library in Berlin .
Brandenburg Leipzig A copy of every printed work published in Brandenburg must be submitted to the Potsdam City and State Library .
Bremen Frankfurt am Main A copy must be submitted to the Bremen State and University Library .
Hamburg Frankfurt am Main A copy must be submitted to the Hamburg State and University Library .
Hesse Frankfurt am Main The ordinance on the mandatory submission of media works (dated September 14, 2017) applies accordingly. The recipient of a deposit copy is, depending on the place of publication, the University and State Library Darmstadt (before February 24, 2004: Hessian State and University Library ), the Johann Christian Senckenberg University Library in Frankfurt am Main (before 2005: City and University Library), the University and State Library Fulda (before 2001: Hessian State Library Fulda), the University Library Kassel - State Library and Murhard Library of the City of Kassel , or the University and State Library RheinMain in Wiesbaden.
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Leipzig A copy is to be delivered to the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania State Library .
Lower Saxony Frankfurt am Main According to §§ 7 and 12 of the Lower Saxony Press Act, a copy of every printed work published in Lower Saxony must be submitted to the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Library - Lower Saxony State Library in Hanover.
North Rhine-Westphalia Leipzig According to § 2 of the law on the submission of deposit copies, the following libraries are responsible: for the administrative district of Cologne the University and State Library Bonn , for the administrative district of Düsseldorf the University and State Library Düsseldorf and for the administrative districts of Arnsberg , Detmold and Münster the university and state library Munster .
Rhineland-Palatinate Frankfurt am Main According to the state ordinance for the implementation of Section 3 of the State Library Act (of May 24, 2017), depending on the place of publication, the compulsory library for a deposit copy is the Mainz City Library , the State Library Center / Palatinate State Library in Speyer , the State Library Center / Rhenish State Library in Koblenz or the City Library Trier . With the entry into force of the State Library Act (dated December 3, 2014), non-physical media works are also required to be submitted: Depending on the place of publication, the State Library Center / Palatinate State Library in Speyer or the State Library Center / Rhenish State Library in Koblenz are authorized to receive them.
Saarland Frankfurt am Main According to Section 14 of the Saarland Media Act (SMG) of February 27, 2002 (OJ Saarland p. 498; Lansky / Kesper No. 582) in the version of the amendment dated December 1, 2015 (OJ Saarland I p. 913), there is a Obligation to submit to the Saarland University and State Library .
Saxony Leipzig According to § 11 of the Saxon Law on the Press (of April 3, 1992), a copy of every printed matter published in Saxony must be delivered to the Saxon State and University Library in Dresden within four weeks .
Saxony-Anhalt Leipzig According to Section 11 of the Press Act for the State of Saxony-Anhalt (State Press Act) of April 26, 2010, a copy must be submitted to the University and State Library of Saxony-Anhalt in Halle (Saale) .
Schleswig-Holstein Frankfurt am Main According to § 9 of the law for the libraries in Schleswig-Holstein, one copy each is to be offered to the Kiel University Library , the Schleswig-Holstein State Library in Kiel and the City Library in Lübeck and delivered on request.
Thuringia Leipzig A copy of every printed work published in Thuringia is to be delivered to the Thuringian University and State Library in Jena .


The submission of deposit copies is regulated in Austria in Sections 43, 44, 45 and 50 of the Media Act that was passed in 1981 and has since been amended . Further provisions can be found in the mandatory deposit regulation of 2009.

In addition, according to § 59 and § 86 of the University Act , students are obliged to submit theses to the respective university library and, in the case of dissertations , to the national library. According to Sections 49 and 62 of the 2005 Higher Education Act, the same applies to universities of teacher education .


Since 1808 the Viennese court library has received deposit copies from all parts of the Austrian monarchy.

The Federal Act of April 7, 1922 on the Press ( "Press Act" ) and the Ordinance of September 26, 1922 on the Delivery of Free Items according to the Federal Act on the Press were the later basis for the obligation to submit deposit copies .


In Switzerland there is no regulation that would oblige the publisher to submit deposit copies. The Swiss National Library has completed instead contracts with the publishers.

In addition, the Zurich Central Library collects all books published in the Canton of Zurich , by Zurich authors and about Zurich in two copies: one for lending and one for collection. In doing so, she appeals to the publishers' benevolence.

United Kingdom

A legal deposit of every publication must be submitted to the British Library in London and - if requested depending on the focus there - also to five other libraries: the National Library of Scotland , the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth, the Bodleian Library in Oxford, the Cambridge University Library and the Trinity College Library in Dublin.

Other countries

There are also various forms of legal deposit in other countries. For example, until a few years ago, US copyright only applied when a copy of the work in question was sent to the Library of Congress .

See also


  • Libraries with deposit copies in Germany , compiled by Wolfgang Dittrich. Published by the DBI Commission for Use and Information and the Conference of Central Catalogs. Deutsches Bibliotheksinstitut, Berlin 1995, ISBN 3-87068-478-X (list of all deposit copy libraries and the historical distribution of deposit copies in Germany).

Web links


North Rhine-Westphalia

Individual evidence

  1. Gabriele Beger: The deposit copy - from literature to digital work . In: Regional libraries in Germany , 2000, p. 36.
  2. ^ Heinrich Kaspers: The right to deposit copies . In: Börsenblatt des Deutschen Buchhandels . 22, 1961, p. 374.
  3. Gabriele Beger: The deposit copy - from literature to digital work . In: Regional libraries in Germany , 2000, p. 36.
  4. Hildebert Kirchner: Library and Documentation Law , 1981, p. 179 f.
  5. Compilation by Johannes Franke: The submission of the deposit copies of printed matter with special consideration of Prussia and the German Empire . Berlin 1889 ( online )
  6. Cf. Max Stois: The right of deposit copies with special consideration of German law . In: Central Journal for Libraries . 42, 1925, pp. 112-139 ( online ); Friedrich List : The right of the Hessian state libraries to free copies under consideration of general German administrative law . In: Central Journal for Libraries . 44, 1927, pp. 46-61 ( online ).
  7. Sören Flachowsky: " Armory for the swords of the spirit". The Deutsche Bücherei during the Nazi era . Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen 2018, ISBN 978-3-8353-3196-9 , p. 54.
  8. ^ Order regarding the delivery of printed matter to the Deutsche Bücherei in Leipzig . In: The right of the Reich Chamber of Culture . 3, 1935 (1936), p. 3 .; Alfred Flemming: The right of deposit copies , 1940, p. 66.
  9. From March 31, 1969 ( Federal Law Gazette I p. 265 ), §§ 18-25.
  10. Horst Kunze: Grundzüge der Bibliothekslehre, 1976, p. 161
  11. ↑ In addition Jörn Heckmann, Marc Philipp Weber: Electronic online publications in the light of the law on the German National Library (DNBG) . In: AfP. Journal for Media and Communication Law 2008, pp. 269–276 (keyword “ compulsory license ”).
  12. See e.g. B. the current German National Library: DNB collection guidelines ( memento of March 8, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 443 kB).
  13. See the principles for the publication of dissertations (PDF; 14 kB) of the Conference of Ministers of Education
  14. ^ Law on the delivery of mandatory copies to the Badische Landesbibliothek in Karlsruhe and the Württembergische Landesbibliothek in Stuttgart. Accessed June 4, 2019 (German).
  15. Ordinance of the Ministry of Science for the implementation of the law on the submission of legal deposit copies to the Badische Landesbibliothek in Karlsruhe and the Württembergische Landesbibliothek in Stuttgart (Legal Deposit Ordinance). Accessed June 4, 2019 (German).
  16. Law on the delivery of compulsory pieces (Compulsory Pieces Act - PflStG) of 6 August 1986 on the Bavarian law database
  17. Compulsory position. In: Bavarian State Library. Retrieved March 24, 2020 .
  18. Information from the ZLB Berlin .
  19. Brandenburg Legal Deposit Ordinance of September 29, 1994 (PDF; 13 kB).
  20. Transparency Portal Bremen - Law on the Press (Press Law) of March 16, 1965. Retrieved on June 4, 2019 .
  21. ↑ Deposit copies of Hamburg publications
  22. Law on the delivery of legal deposit copies
  23. ^ Ordinance on the delivery of printed works of December 12, 1984 .
  24. Ordinance on the delivery of printed works (printing works delivery regulation) of March 20, 1996
  25. ^ Lower Saxony press law ; see. GWLB information page .
  26. Law on the delivery of legal deposit copies ( Legal Deposit Law) of May 18, 1993, accessed on March 21, 2010
  27. [1] , accessed on January 16, 2019.
  28. See § 3 of the State Library Act ( Memento of February 16, 2015 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on February 16, 2015.
  29. Deposit copies according to SächsPresseG , accessed on June 28, 2017.
  30. ↑ Deposit copies
  31. ↑ Legal deposit regulation in Thuringia
  32. Federal Law Gazette No. 218/1922
  33. Federal Law Gazette No. 716/1922