Announcing a draft guide for identifying public domain serial content

Back in June, I announced that we had completed an inventory of all serials with active copyright renewals made through 1977, based on listings in the Copyright Office’s Catalog of Copyright Entries.  At the time, I said we’d also be releasing a draft of suggested procedures for using the information there, along with other data, to quickly identify and check public domain serial content. (If you’ve been following the Public Domain Day advent calendar I’ve been publishing this month, you’ll have seen the inventory or its records mentioned in some recent entries.)

It took a little longer than I’d hoped, but after having some librarians and IP experts have a look at it, I’m pleased to announce that the draft of “Determining copyright status of serial issues” is open for public comment.  I hope this will become something that people can use or adapt to identify public domain content of interest to them, so it can be digitized, adapted, or otherwise shared with the world.

It’s challenging to come up with a guide that will work for every audience, whether that’s folks wanting to digitize a lot of stuff quickly without a lot of fuss, or dig deeply into the status of certain publications they really want to work with, or who are lawyers or serious intellectual property nerds. But I hope the document I’ve produced will have some use for all these folks, and since it’ll be licensed CC-BY once it comes out of draft status, folks should be free to adapt it for more targeted audiences and projects.  (I’d also love to eventually see visually effective graphics or flow-charts based on it; graphic design of that sort isn’t really my forte.)

My aim at this point is to bring the document out of draft status at the start of next month.  (Public Domain Day would be a very appropriate time to make it official.)  If you want to comment on the draft, getting your comments to me by December 25 should give me enough time to make any appropriate responses or revisions.  You can email them to me at (ockerblo) at (upenn) dot (edu), or post a public comment on this blog post, or get a hold of me via my other public contacts or forums I frequent.

I’ll also be presenting on our serials copyright work at the CNI Fall Membership Meeting in Washington, as part of a panel session at 3:45pm Eastern Time this coming Monday, December 10.  I’ll be joined in the session by Greg Cram of the New York Public Library, who’s working on a searchable database of the contents of the Catalog of Copyright Entries, and Melissa Levine of the University of Michigan, lead author of “Finding the Public Domain: Copyright Review Management System Toolkit”, who’ll discuss potential roles that machine learning and crowdsourcing could play in future copyright research.  If you’ll be there, I’ll be happy to talk with you more during the conference.   For other folks, I’ll post slides and/or links to a stream or recording of the session if there is one.

My thanks again to the Institute of Museum and Library Services for supporting this work.



About John Mark Ockerbloom

I'm a digital library strategist at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.
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