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Legal resources at Oxford University: eLD - Electronic Legal Deposit

Subjects: Law

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Electronic Legal Deposit Explained (video tutorial)

Some items on SOLO are subject to restrictions and display a notice stating that  "Online access is restricted: available via Bodleian Libraries reading room PCs only". These are items which the Bodleian Libraries receive under Electronic Legal Deposit.

This video tutorial, Electronic Legal Deposit Explained looks at what Electronic Legal Deposit is, what it covers and the restrictions imposed on Electronic Legal Deposit items.   Please note that the tutorial opens in a new window.  If you prefer to read about Electronic Legal Deposit rather than watching a video please skip to the text instructions.


Electronic Legal Deposit Explained (text)

Why are some items restricted on SOLO?

Some items on SOLO may only be accessed from Bodleian Libraries reading room PCs. These are items which the Bodleian Libraries receive via "electronic Legal Deposit" (eLD).

What is Electronic Legal Deposit?

The Bodleian Libraries are a legal deposit library.  This means that the Bodleian Libraries are entitled by law to receive a copy of every item published in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Other Legal Deposit Libraries in the UK including Cambridge University Library, Trinity College Dublin Library, the British Library and the national Libraries of Scotland and Wales also have these privileges.

Legal Deposit started in 1662 and has allowed the Bodleian Library to amass a vast collection of books, journals and other printed items which are of great value to researchers.  Of course the Bodleian Libraries also purchase many items including research materials from overseas and extra copies of key works published in the UK.   However, legal deposit legislation has allowed the Bodleian Libraries to receive many items which would not otherwise be available in Oxford.

Legal Deposit has historically only covered printed items. However, in 2003 new legislation was passed which extended legal deposit to electronic publications and it came into force in April 2013.     Therefore the Bodleian Libraries only started to receive electronic material via legal deposit in 2013.   Of course, the Bodleian Libraries also has many subscriptions to eJournals and ebooks and so you will find many electronic items in our collections besides those that we receive under Electronic Legal Deposit.

What is covered by Electronic Legal Deposit?

Electronic Legal Deposit covers

  • Ejournals, ebooks  and other e-versions of traditional printed materials.
  • Web sites published in the UK. This not only includes web sites with a .uk, .Scotland, .Wales or .England web address but also other web site which are substantially published in the UK.  However, it does NOT Include web sites such as YouTube which consist solely of audio visual content.
  • Standalone or "off line" electronic items such as CD ROMs

Although the new legislation came into force in April 2013, this does not mean that the Bodleian Libraries have every ebook and every ejournal published since that date. In fact the Legal Deposit Act 2003 entitles the Bodleian Libraries and the other Legal Deposit Libraries to either a print OR an electronic copy of every item published in the UK but not to both.  In practice this means that we will continue to receive printed items from many publishers for some years to come.   Meanwhile other publishers have already started to deposit material with us electronically and we no longer receive their output in print.   

Electronic Legal Deposit Restrictions

The Legal Deposit Act 2003 imposes a number of restrictions on the use of materials received through electronic legal deposit.

In particular

  1. Items received via electronic Legal Deposit may only be read on computers owned by the Bodleian Libraries and located on Library premises. This means that  to use an electronic legal deposit item you will need to use a public computer in one of the Bodleian Libraries.  Please note that this includes all thirty of the Bodleian Libraries not just the Old Bodleian
  2. You may NOT save or make digital copies of items received under electronic Legal Deposit.    This includes copying and pasting as well as saving and you will find that the copy and paste functions are disabled when reading electronic Legal Deposit items
  3. Each electronic Legal Deposit item may only be read by one person in Oxford at a time.    Therefore if another reader is using the article or book chapter that you wish to use, you will not be able to access it until they have finished.

These restrictions are a legal requirement under the Legal Deposit Act 2003.

However, it is worth noting that the Bodleian Libraries subscribe to over 50,000 ejournals and over 540,000 e-books. These are subject to far fewer restrictions. For example, in most cases members of Oxford University will be able to use these journals and books both on and off campus and will be able to copy and paste from them within the limits imposed by normal copyright law.  It is therefore likely that in many cases you will be able to use a subscription resource rather than the more restricted electronic Legal Deposit item.

Avoiding electronic Legal Deposit Restrictions

In many cases you will be able to avoid electronic Legal Deposit restrictions by choosing a subscription (or open access) e-book or e-journal rather than the electronic legal deposit version from SOLO.  

For example, in the screen shot below, you will see three "versions" of the Journal of Contemporary History.

  1. The first version is a printed copy, you can tell this because it has a Find and Request option.
  2. The second is an electronic subscription or open access journal, you can tell this because it has a View online option but not a restrictions notice. 
  3. The third is the electronic Legal Deposit version, you can tell this because it has restrictions notice.   

To avoid restrictions you would simply choose the second version.  You will be able to save and copy and paste from this version within normal copyright law.  In addition, in most cases, members of Oxford University will be able to use this version both on and off campus

Occasionally you may find an electronic Legal Deposit item that does not appear to have alternative versions. If so you can check for alternative versions by clicking  How else can I get this?

For more guidance on searching and accessing journals in print, electronically and via electronic legal deposit please see the tutorial Finding and using journal articles,

Finding out more, FAQs and Help

To find out more about eLD please see the Bodleian Libraries' web pages or British Library's Frequently Asked Questions.  Please note, that whilst the Bodleian Libraries use the term "electronic Legal Deposit", the British Library refers to this material as "Non-print legal deposit".

If you have a question about eLD in Oxford or are having difficulties accessing materials, please contact the SOLO Live Helpdesk which is on the SOLO homepage. If it is unstaffed please use the Ask an Oxford librarian service.