I’m pleased to announce an important milestone in the IMLS-funded project I’m leading to help open access to 20th century public domain serials. We now have a complete, openly published inventory of all serials with active issue or contribution renewals made through 1977, based on listings in the Copyright Office’s Catalog of Copyright Entries. For each serial in our inventory, we list the earliest issue’s renewal and the earliest contribution’s renewal made during that time period, if any. In many cases, we also give additional copyright information, and link to freely readable online issues, tables of contents, and copyright permissions information.
The Copyright Office’s Copyright records catalog includes copyright renewals and other registrations filed from 1978 onward. Since our inventory now runs all the way up to their catalog’s 1978 starting point, you can now find out if there were any copyright renewals filed for a serial you’re interested in by checking our inventory and the Copyright Office’s database. (Prior to now, you might have needed to search through lots of volumes of the Catalog of Copyright Entries before making such a determination. You can now do it much more quickly.)
We also now have renewal information for over 1,000 of these serials available as structured data, as described in a previous post. These structured data files are available as individual JSON files (linked off of each serial listed in the inventory with a hyperlink), and also can be downloaded in bulk, along with our overall inventory listing, from our Online Books Page GitHub repository. There are still some listings that are not yet available as structured data, but they’ll be converted over time, and all new listings will be made available as structured data.
Thanks to this structured data, we can now also offer a more consistent and easy-to-use inventory page. In particular, all of the title links on the page now go to copyright information. (Before, some links would go to copyright information and some would go to online copies of the serials themselves, making for a somewhat confusing user experience. You can still get to online serials via the copyright information pages; if a linked title is shown with emphasis, its copyright information page includes a link to free online content available for that title.)
We’re now done, then, with compiling and publishing the data we said we would compile for our project. But we’re not done with the project yet as a whole. Here’s what’s still to come:
- Suggested procedures for using the data we’ve compiled, along with other data, to quickly identify and check public domain serial content. We’re drafting those procedures now, and hope to publish our draft after we’ve had some experts in copyright and digitization projects review it. In the meantime, if you want to use the data we’ve compiled to clear copyrights for serials, keep the caveats we describe at the top of our inventory in mind.
- Documentation for the JSON files we’re using for our copyright data. The fields and format we’re using are still subject to change, but probably won’t change all that much from what they look like now. (I might make them JSON-LD files eventually, but hope that I can do that in a backward-compatible way.) In the meantime, feel free to contact me with questions about the fields I’m using in those files and what they mean.
- Examples of public domain serials published after 1922 whose copyright status has been cleared with our recommended procedures and data, along with explanations on how we cleared them.
There are also ways you can help out with this project. Along with the things you can do that we suggested in our earlier post, here are a few new things that we can now help with:
- If you’re interested in a serial that published between 1923 and 1964 that’s not already in our list, tell us about it. (You can use use this suggestion form. All you need to put in it is the title, and whatever is needed to distinguish it from similarly-titled works.) We can quickly add it to our inventory. If we find any associated renewals in the Copyright Office’s database, we’ll note the first one. If we don’t find any associated renewals, we’ll note that. And if we can quickly find online public domain issues, we’ll link to them.
- If you’re interested in compiling more comprehensive or details information about a particular serial, you can get in touch with us and we can work with you to get an enhanced JSON file created for it. For an idea of what can be done, check our our information page for Amazing Stories and its associated JSON file. We don’t have time ourselves to create these sort of comprehensive pages for all of the serials out there, but we’d love to work with people with the time, interest and skills to create such information pages for serials they’re interested in.
I’m excited about where we’ve gotten so far, and what can be done with this data. I’d love to hear from you about what you’d like to do with it, and how you might like to extend it.
Hi. This is great news! Does it mean anything if I can’t find a periodical in the list? Specifically “Sword and Trumpet”. It is a Mennonite periodical that is still going today. It was established in 1929 by George R. Brunk I. There are a couple of articles from 1955 and 1956 that I’m looking to get copyright information on. Any help?
Another question. I’m not completely sure about things here. What is the difference between issue renewal and contribution renewal. I can guess, but I’d like to be certain. When you say contribution renewal what do you mean? That someone who contributed renewed an article? Or that the magazine itself renewed all contributions?
If a magazine isn’t even listed does that mean it didn’t even apply for initial copyright status so that it didn’t have any copyrights to renew 28 years later? I’m thinking that’s one possible reason why The Sword and Trumpet is not listed at all.
I’ve done a bit of digging and it seems my hunches are correct, but I’ll post this comment either way.
It appears from this link (https://archive.org/stream/catalogofcopyrig392libr#page/303/mode/1up/search/sword) that the Sword and Trumpet never even applied for initial copyright.
I’m also interested in The Alliance Weekly. So I checked out the page of Copyright Information for it (https://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/cinfo/allianceweekly) and there it has a line “First renewed contribution in: February 12, 1944; see 1972 January-June”. The year 1972 in that line is hyperlinked and it brings me to the Copyright registrations for 1972 page. When I clicked on the Books and Submissions to Periodicals link and searched for “Alliance” I found the one article that had been renewed for copyright. However, does that mean it must have been entered separately for initial copyright as I cannot find initial copyright registration for the Alliance Weekly at all.
And that brings up an interesting question related to my first question, because if I search that same issue of the copyright registrations of the year 1955 I do not find The Alliance Weekly there So why is it listed in your periodicals section but The Sword and Trumpet is not?
Dave: Thanks for your questions. It looks like _The Sword and Trumpet_ did not renew any of its issues, and renewals were not filed for any contributions to the magazine, which is why it wasn’t in my listings when you asked your question. (I’ve since added an entry noting the lack of renewals.) _The Alliance Weekly_ was listed even before you asked your question because there was a contribution renewal that we noted.
Regarding issue vs. contribution renewals: Issue renewals are generally filed by the publisher of a periodical, and can be considered to cover the entire contents of the renewed issue. (It might not in all cases, but that’s the safest thing to assume without further information.) Contribution renewals are generally filed by the author of a particular article or story in a periodical, and cover only that particular article or contribution.
I do sometimes find copyright renewals in the Catalog of Copyright Entries without a separate listing for their original registration. I can’t tell you for sure what that means, but my assumption is that the renewals are valid. There was for a while considerable latitude in when you could file an original registration, so it may have been possible to file an original registration for an article and a renewal at more or less the same time. In such cases, there might be only one CCE entry covering both, with both the original registration ID (in this case, the one starting with A5-) and the renewal registration ID (the one starting with R) shown. But that’s just my best guess; I welcome comments from others who know more.