Invitation to attend: Initial Focus Group on the Review of the Legal Deposit Act

Friday, 20 October, 2023

We invite you to attend this Focus Group online session to be held online through Teams.
DATE: Friday 30 October 2023
TIME: 09h00-13h00
Microsoft Teams meeting
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Meeting ID: 344 232 913 459 
Passcode: LerEhc 
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Please email Sholeen Sanker on to confirm your ability to attend.

Information below outlines the project and the act briefly and the approach of the focus group points.

Roger Layton Associates (RLA) have been commissioned by the Department of Sports, Arts & Culture to review the Archives Act, Legal Deposit Act, and the NCLIS Act.
The project commenced with an analysis of prior work in reviewing these Acts, from which we identified a range of problems which have been recorded in the past, including the major legislative review conducted by Cheadle in 2008.
We have used this to construct a model of prior thinking on the Act and how it can be modernised and improved, including how best to integrate into the level ecosystem of the country and to align with international standards.
This document provides the background information, including the specific topics of discussion, to assist you in preparing for this engagement.

Brief Description of Legal Deposit Act
The purpose of the Legal Deposit Act is to provide for 1) the preservation of the national documentary heritage of published documents, including audiovisual and electronic media and 2) the compilation of a national bibliography of published materials by the National Library of South Africa with the assistance of the places of legal deposit.
The places of legal deposit of published documents (libraries) are clearly outlined in the Act and includes the National Film, Video and Sound Archive (NFVSA) to take care of audio-visual material. The Act prescribes 5 copies of a published document to be deposited in each of the designated provinces whereas 1 copy of audio-visual works such broadcasts and films must be deposited at the NFVSA, Pretoria. In addition, the Minister appointed Official Publications Depositories (OPDs) to assist with legal deposit in specific formats or areas of expertise. The minister may appoint other entities, e.g. the Library of the Blind as a place of legal deposit. The duties of the places of legal deposit are set out clearly and includes the preservation and cataloguing of deposited publications and to ensure freedom of access to the deposited  documents, including government information, emanating from, or adapted for, South Africa. The duties furthermore include the compilation of a national bibliography by the ‘State Library’ (National Library of South Africa (NLSA)) with the assistance of other places of legal deposit and OPDs. The NLSA is also tasked to keep statistics of the South African production of published documents.
The Act provides for an advisory body, the Legal Deposit Committee, which must represent all places of legal deposit, including publishers such as the Government Printing Works and representatives from the publishing industry as well as any other party with an interest in legal deposits. The Legal Deposit Committee has to coordinate and promote the implementation of the Act and to advise the Minister on any matters dealt with in the Act and made provision for remedying non-compliance. Punitive measures are described in the Act for non-compliance.
A number of issues has been identified as omissions or gaps within the Act:

  1. Although the definition of what constitutes a document is broad and inclusive, it does not define documents in the current world of electronic and digital publications, e.g. website harvesting, podcasts, online and offline electronic documents, electronic games etc. Nor does the Act deal with measurements to maintain equipment and software to access the documents once new technology replaces the current technology.
  2. Places of Legal Deposit must include the Library of the Blind to deal with its specialised formats. Places of Legal Deposit may include selected broadcasters to look after their vast number of content produced on a daily basis and assist the NFVSA as such.
  3. Copyright exceptions (Copyright Act of 1978) must be introduced to allow public use of deposited material and the deposit of electronic materials.
  4. The Act should address funding/human resources/infrastructure to adequately deal with the deposit, preservation, cataloguing, and storage of all forms of legal deposit for the purpose of public access.
  5. The Act does not address auditing of legal deposit places to ensure that they comply with the duties as set out in the Act and to ensure that deposits are duly preserved and accessible and to report to the Legal Act Committee matters of non-compliance due to lack of funding, infrastructure or matters hampering the work of the places of legal deposit. The Act, however, makes provision to remove a place of legal deposit when found it is not fulfilling its duties.
  6. Punitive measures are viewed as a minimum for certain depositors, e.g. film production companies not complying with the Act, and too much for a small, independent publisher. This should be addressed.


Focus Group Approach
We are providing a copy of this Act for your reference.
NOTE: There is a limited time for this, and the purpose of this focus group is to guide the process.
The session will be structured as follows:
·       The digital transformation of society, and the 4IR, have led to questioning whether these Acts remain relevant, and were future-proofed in advance, or whether changes are needed to accommodate these changes. On the one side, much is written in a media-neutral basis, which can be interpreted as paper or digital forms. However, the digital world also changes how we think and act in preserving our heritage, and how this heritage is made available.
·       Whereas a review was conducted in 2006-2008, this would be before the significant changes in digital technologies and the widespread availability of the Internet that have occurred in the past 15 years, and we expected that this older review would fail to have considered the impact of digital technologies on these acts, and society. However, it is likely that other recommendations outside of digital transformation may remain relevant.
We will consider the three Acts from a constitutional perspective to ensure that the Acts give effect to the rights in the Bill of Rights. In doing so, we will focus on the right of everyone to participate in cultural life as well as have access to their cultural heritage, including marginalised groups such as people with disabilities.



Published date: 
Friday, 20 October, 2023