Joho the Blog » Did lord knows how many books just enter the public domain, thanks to Google and some good-hearted folk?

Did lord knows how many books just enter the public domain, thanks to Google and some good-hearted folk?

Jacob Kramer-Duffield at the Berkman Center explains the significance of Google’s new ability to search the copyright renewal notices for books published between 1923 and 1963. Publishers of those books had to file a renewal notice to hold on to their copyrights. It’s been very difficult to determine whether those notices were ever filed, so, when in doubt, we’ve assumed that they’re protected, even though most of them undoubtedly are not. This is known as the “orphaned works” problem.

But, thanks to a gargantuan effort by a whole bunch of people — thank you! — that information has been digitized and Google can search it. Google Book Search and The Open Content Alliance will use this list to provide open access to works that otherwise were kept out of the hands of the public because their copyright status just couldn’t be determined.

Project Gutenberg, The Universal Library Project, and the Distributed Proofreaders deserve a lot of credit, praise, and hosannahs for accomplishing this task. [Tags: ]

8 Responses to “Did lord knows how many books just enter the public domain, thanks to Google and some good-hearted folk?”

  1. The University of Michigan Library (where I work) has been engaged in a similar activity. Library staff verify the copyright status of these orphaned works. Our goal is to maximize the availability of full text online access to these orphaned works through MBooks (the collection of University of Michigan Library books scanned through the Google Books partnership). For more information on the U-M library’s work in this area, see ‘Discovering the Undiscovered Public Domain‘ and ‘What to Do with Books in Copyright.

  2. Copyright:- protecting intellectual works from falling into the grubby hands of the public.

  3. […] Joho the Blog » Did lord knows how many books just enter the public domain, thanks to Google and so… An interesting take on the copyright renewal notice search. (tags: books copyright google) […]

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  5. Yay! Interesting.

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  8. Thanks for the information about the copyright database!

    Dave

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