Thursday, April 05, 2007

The "Copyright Determinator"

Good news for those trying to investigate the copyright of an item. The Stanford University Libraries and Academic Information Resources (SULAIR) has developed the Copyright Renewal Database with a grant from the Hewlett Foundation. The database has been nicknamed the "Copyright Determinator."
Determining the copyright status of books has become a pressing issue as libraries and businesses develop plans to digitize materials and make works in the public domain widely available. In order to appropriately select books for digitization, these organizations need to determine efficiently and with some certainty the copyright status of each work in a large collection. The Determinator supports this process, bringing all [U.S.] 1923-1963 book-renewal records together in a single database and, more significantly, making searchable renewal records that had previously been distributed only in print.
The Determinator was built using the Project Gutenberg's transcriptions of the Catalog of Copyright Entries, which was published by the U.S. Copyright Office.

When investigating copyright, one should read Circular 22 from the U.S. Copyright Office entitled How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work. Investigating the copyright of an item is not necessarily straightforward. Having the Determinator online, though, will help.

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