The Commonwealth has now passed legislation requiring copies of certain types of digital material (including eBooks and websites) to be deposited with the National Library.
The legislation had bi-lateral support and follows several years of consultations. Attorney-General Senator Brandis QC stated that the amendments reflected “the government’s commitment to meet the needs of industry and consumers in the digital age” and Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus noted how important it was that “the large amount of Australian cultural output now produced in digital form be preserved by the National Library”.
The provisions are not, however, uncontroversial, with many publishers concerned that the provisions permit much more to be done with their material than merely preserve it and that the ready – and free – availability of the material through Australia’s library systems may undercut their financial viability. Some publishers have also expressed concerns that their material may not be held securely, though we understand that the National Library has been taking steps to assure publishers that their material will be secure and only used by the National Library in accordance with the Copyright Act.