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Alert to all Australian Authors

Ernest Bywater

I saw some information on the Australian National Library website and checked further, below is the correspondence on the matter. Bold items are mine for emphasis.

G'day,

I'm concerned about the legal deposit requirements as they related to independent authors who publish e-books and via print-on-demand services. Especially if the services they use are based outside of Australia. In checking the website FAQs on this I thought I was required to comply, yet when I went to the New Account page for the Legal Deposit I saw I have to identify as either a Publisher or Government, while I'm an author. This makes me wonder if I need to make a legal deposit or not. I don't actually print anything, just make a print ready PDF available for printers to use, and I also make a e-pub copy available via overseas distributor websites.

Can you please provide me with the correct requirements for my situation.

Regards,

Ernest Bywater


their reply is:

Dear Ernest,
Thanks for your recent query about Legal Deposit.

Legal Deposit applies to all Australian self-publishing authors - you are considered to be the publisher, so in setting up your edeposit account, you should select 'Publisher.'

You may also find the following blog post helpful: https://www.nla.gov.au/blogs/behind-the-scenes/2016/05/17/self-publishers-we-want-you

Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any further queries.

Kind regards,


In some states the same applies to you lodging copies with the state libraries as well.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

Legal Deposit applies to all Australian self-publishing authors - you are considered to be the publisher,

EB, can you clarify how the NLA interprets a work as being "self-published"?
Is it only once the work is being offered for sale to others?

Ross at Play
Updated:

I just sent this question to the NLA:

Would you please advise whether the same [Legal Deposit] requirements apply to:
(a) authors who are not Australian citizens but are permanent residents of Australia
(b) authors who are Australian citizens but are not permanent residents of Australia.

I will post their reply here once I receive it.

Ernest Bywater

From the website:

www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit

Legal deposit is a requirement for Australian publications to be deposited with the National Library of Australia. See how to deposit for more information.

www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit-faq

Does legal deposit apply to electronic publications?

Yes. These include Australian electronic books, journals, sheet music, maps, magazines, newsletters, newspapers and websites that are made available to the public for sale or for free.

What counts as Australian?

All works published in Australia, including works published by Australians on websites and hosted on overseas self-publishing platforms.

Do I need an ISBN, ISSN or ISMN to deposit?

No. These International Standard Numbers for books (ISBN), serials (ISSN), and music (ISMN) have benefits in the retail trade. See ISBN, ISSN or ISMN for further information.


The two web pages mentioned have a lot more information, but I think theses are the most important.

If you set a story in Australia they would like a copy, even if you aren't an Australian author.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

www.nla.gov.au/legal-deposit

pdf for NLA Legal Deposit info

Well, that seems comprehensive ... They REQUIRE copies of anything "literary", published anywhere and in any medium, by all Australian citizens (resident there or not) or non-citizens resident there.

As far as I can tell, that includes the very short story I "published" on SOL.

Is that right, EB? Do they require copies of everything which is complete that every Australian has ever posted on SOL? Even haiku?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
robberhands

Is anywhere stated you have to come forward? Is the NLA's right on a copy coupled with a fine? Otherwise I'd lay back and relax.

Ernest Bywater

What the website says makes it clear you have to lodge a copy of anything you write - but I've not yet found the law behind it, so I can't speak about possible penalties. mind you, the person I've corresponded with hasn't suggest a big stick anywhere, yet.

Crumbly Writer

@Ross at Play

Is that right, EB? Do they require copies of everything which is complete that every Australian has ever posted on SOL? Even haiku?

Seeing as how Australia currently has one of the most stringent laws concerning child porn in the world, I'd think twice before submitting anything from SOL, regardless of content. Once they start looking, there's no telling where it will lead.

Self-publishing is self-publishing. If you post it on Amazon, or any similar site, you're self published. Posting to SOL is the same as posting to icanhascheeseburger.com, it's NOT considered a 'publication'. And, as robberhands points out, this is NOT a legal requirement, it is simply a 'request' for submissions. There are no penalties of any kind involved.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

OK, Section 195 of the Copyright Act of 1968 says you can be fined for not lodging a copy. Will add an edit when i find out when this was put in the act.

Edit to add: prior to 24 Feb 2016 version shows a $100 fine for not lodging, but only covers delivery to the NLA. Current is basically the same as the Feb 2016. The requirement seems to go back to before 1973 but I can't find a copy on line prior to that.

Interesting how this has never been publicised to people in general.

Replies:   REP
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Seeing as how Australia currently has one of the most stringent laws concerning child porn in the world, I'd think twice before submitting anything from SOL, regardless of content. Once they start looking, there's no telling where it will lead.


You run into an interesting legal conflict then, because one defence is having Commonwealth Classification - I bet the lawyers can make a fortune off this one.

Replies:   robberhands
REP
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

I looked up the legal definition of publishing and found the US definition. It was very interesting. If Australia's definition is the same, then publishing is defined as the transfer of information to the public regardless of medium. In addition to authors, that includes newspapers, magazines, academic papers, , etc.

Politicians transfer information through their speeches. I suspect they could be defined as self-publishing and be required to submit a written copy of their speeches. If they haven't been complying, will they be fined?

Is this the law of Unintended Consequences? :)

ETA: Inferred but forgot to state that communicating information verbally would be included as publishing according to US law. So all TV News programs, teachers' lectures, politicians' speeches, etc., could be included.

Ernest Bywater

@REP

If they haven't been complying, will they be fined?


I hope so

robberhands
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

You run into an interesting legal conflict then, because one defence is having Commonwealth Classification - I bet the lawyers can make a fortune off this one.

Unlikely, every country holds a territorial and a personal judical prerogative. That means it doesn't matter where you commit a crime. If you are an Australian citizen, Australia can prosecute you under Australian law in any case.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@robberhands

Unlikely, every country holds a territorial and a personal judical prerogative. That means it doesn't matter where you commit a crime. If you are an Australian citizen, Australia can prosecute you under Australian law in any case.


I wasn't looking at the territorial aspect, but at the aspect of the conflict between the legal deposit law and the porn laws and how they can conflict in some cases. Current federal laws says I have to lodge a copy of my works, another federal law says I can't send a file involving sex with someone under 18 years of age over the Internet - it used to be 16 so it was legal when i wrote some sex scenes in some stories, but not legal to put them over the net now. So two different federal authorities can argue it out as to what's legal.

awnlee jawking

@REP

the transfer of information to the public regardless of medium.


I admitted to my Writers' Group that I receive e-mails from readers. Some of them accused me of being a 'published author'. I insisted I wasn't, because that's not the traditional meaning of the term. But with authorities trying to increase their sphere of influence (no doubt followed by taxation), who knows how the meaning will change.

I'd better make sure none of the characters in 'Gay!' comes across as Australian :(

AJ

Replies:   REP
robberhands

@Ernest Bywater

I wasn't looking at the territorial aspect, but at the aspect of the conflict between the legal deposit law and the porn laws and how they can conflict in some cases.

That's a similar conflict a drug dealer faces. His business is prohibited but he still has to pay taxes.

Ross at Play

@Ernest Bywater

not legal to put them over the net now.

Not strictly true ... but I agree authors may face quite frightening dilemmas.
The Federal law has a criterion that something containing its defined no-nos is only illegal if it (paraphrasing here) "may cause offense to a reasonable person".
The dilemmas are obvious. The only way an author can find out and know their work passes the "reasonable" test is by handing it into the police and waiting to see if they are arrested. I doubt there is even be enough case law since these provisions were introduced, in 2005 IIRC, for a lawyer to give you an informed opinion.

Replies:   Capt. Zapp
Ross at Play

@robberhands

That's a similar conflict a drug dealer faces. His business is prohibited but he still has to pay taxes.

Nope, says this person who endured their entire career working in the Australian Taxation Office.
The public, including police, may access anything you provide to the National Library.
The Taxation Office is forbidden by its law to divulge information that a taxpayer has declared income from illegal sources. A few exceptions exist, such as our welfare department, but the information can only, in theory, be used to calculate amounts of money the taxpayer should pay to or receive from the government.

Replies:   robberhands  sejintenej
REP

@awnlee jawking

I'd better make sure none of the characters in 'Gay!' comes across as Australian :(


:)
Since the law applies to Australian authors, you are okay. If the authorities are upset that a story contains Australian character, they can go arrest those characters. :)

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking
Updated:

@REP

I thought someone got an official response that the NLA (isn't there a terrorist group with those initials?) would be interested in works by non-Australians that were not published in Australia but that were set in that country, but I can't find it to quote it.

From there, it's only a short step to wanting copies of works containing Australian characters. No doubt governmental snowflakes would like to ensure there's no cultural appropriation taking place ;)

AJ

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

I thought someone got an official response that the NLA (isn't there a terrorist group with those initials?) would be interested in works by non-Australians that were not published in Australia but that were set in that country, but I can't find it to quote it.


True, they did say they would like such works lodged with them, but they have no legislative power to demand them, they can just ask nicely or accept if you offer.

robberhands

@Ross at Play

The Taxation Office is forbidden by its law to divulge information that a taxpayer has declared income from illegal sources.

Cool! And it shows the primary government concerns in regards to criminal incomes.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@robberhands

And it shows the primary government concerns in regards to criminal incomes.

Aussies believe in a "fair go" for everyone. Given our heritage, we wouldn't want the government discriminating against our hard-working criminals.

sejintenej

@Ross at Play

The Taxation Office is forbidden by its law to divulge information that a taxpayer has declared income from illegal sources.

But surely in Australia as in England the justice system and the government are kept separate? If so the courts could demand of the NLA that it disclose to the court whether "Joe Bloggs" has published anything which is illegal and if so provide copies.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@sejintenej

NLA = National Library of Australia.
No court order needed to get anything out of them. The police and Mrs Bloggs may walk in and ask to see everything Joe Bloggs has ever published.

In theory at least, the courts would refuse requests by the police to issue a court order insisting the Taxation Office supplies them with any information about any taxpayers.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
Capt. Zapp

@Ross at Play

The Federal law has a criterion that something containing its defined no-nos is only illegal if it (paraphrasing here) "may cause offense to a reasonable person".


Unfortunately this only seems to apply if the person spouting the offensive material cannot play the 'race card'.

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play

@Capt. Zapp

... only seems to apply ...

"Every country has the government it deserves."
- Joseph de Maistre

awnlee jawking

@Ross at Play

NLA = National Liberation Army, a Macedonian terrorist/freedom fighter organisation ;)

AJ

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

NLA = National Liberation Army, a Macedonian terrorist/freedom fighter organisation ;)


It's real initials aren't NLA because it's proper name isn't in English, thus NLA is just a close English approximation of its name. it's OHA in Macedonian and UCK in Albanian. However, over the years there have been a number of groups whose name translated as National Liberation Army when changed to English, and almost all of them wanted to put in place a single socialist leader like Stalin - so I'm not sure where the liberation came into it.

StarFleet Carl

@robberhands

That's a similar conflict a drug dealer faces. His business is prohibited but he still has to pay taxes.


Actually, so long as he actually pays taxes on his income - presuming he fills out his tax form showing the income as self-employment income, he doesn't actually have to list the specific source - he's good.

That's where these guys run afoul of the IRS (notice that if you put those words close together, it spells THEIRS). Also, since this is about Australian law, your law is different, you can't deduct anything from an illegal activity. Here in the US, we can't deduct bribes, kickbacks, or fines and penalties. It's even listed as a legitimate question on tax support websites.

https://ttlc.intuit.com/questions/2410834-does-income-from-illegal-activity-need-to-be-reported

Replies:   Ross at Play
Ross at Play
Updated:

@StarFleet Carl

since this is about Australian law, your law is different, you can't deduct anything from an illegal activity.

No. That only applies if someone has been convicted of an indictable offense (maximum sentence at least 1 year).

Otherwise, deductions are based solely on the interpretation of the words 'necessarily incurred in earning income'.

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