University Libraries’ Anne Conway reaches a copyright milestone – UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries

“Since 2018, preservation services supervisor Anne Conway has spent six hours each week researching the copyright status of online books. She has now completed an outstanding 50,000 assessments as a volunteer for HathiTrust’s Copyright Review Program.

HathiTrust is a not-for-profit collaborative of academic and research libraries—including the University Libraries at UNC-Chapel Hill—that preserves digital copies of more than 17 million books and other materials. When those texts are in the public domain, meaning they are free of copyright restrictions, then HathiTrust makes them accessible online for anyone to read….

It is meaningful work, but it can be complex. While all books first published in the United States before 1928 are in the public domain, reviewers like Conway must apply a rigorous review process to determine whether other texts can be made freely accessible.

That multi-step process includes assessing whether the book matches the project’s legal scope; determining whether its copyright has been renewed; and determining whether the book contains credits, permissions or acknowledgements indicating that the digital file might contain other copyrighted content.

This requires nuance and attention to detail. All copyright reviewers go through an extensive training program before they start evaluating texts, according to the HathiTrust website. Even then, each file has to be assessed by two independent reviewers who must agree on its status before it is made public….”

Public.Resource.Org Can Keep Freeing the Law: Court Allows Posting Public Laws And Regulations Online | Electronic Frontier Foundation

“As part of its ongoing work to ensure that people can know and understand the laws they live under,, a nonprofit organization, on Thursday vindicated its ability to publicly post important laws online in standard formats, free of copy protections and cumbersome user interfaces.

The win for Public Resource—represented by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) with co-counsel Fenwick & West and David Halperin—in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia reinforces the critical idea that our laws belong to all of us, and we should be able to find, read, and comment on them free of registration requirements, fees, and other roadblocks….”

The Pandemic Response Box?Accelerating Drug Discovery Efforts after Disease Outbreaks | ACS Infectious Diseases

Abstract:  The current Covid-19 pandemic has underlined the need for a more coordinated and forward-looking investment in the search for new medicines targeting emerging health care threats. Repositioning currently approved drugs is a popular approach to any new emerging disease, but it represents a first wave of response. Behind this would be a second wave of more specifically designed therapies based on activities against specific molecular targets or in phenotypic assays. Following the successful deployment and uptake of previous open access compound collections, we assembled the Pandemic Response Box, a collection of 400 compounds to facilitate drug discovery in emerging infectious disease. These are based on public domain information on chemotypes currently in discovery and early development which have been shown to have useful activities and were prioritized by medicinal chemistry experts. They are freely available to the community as a pharmacological test set with the understanding that data will be shared rapidly in the public domain.

New Project Will Unlock Access to Government Publications on Microfiche – Internet Archive Blogs

“Government documents from microfiche are coming to based on the combined efforts of the Internet Archive, Stanford University Libraries, and other library partners. The resulting files will be available for free public access to enable new analysis and access techniques. 

Microfiche cards, which contain miniaturized thumbnails of the publication’s pages, are starting to be digitized and matched to catalog records by the Internet Archive. Once in a digital format and preserved on, these documents will be searchable and downloadable by anyone with an Internet connection, since U.S. government publications are in the public domain….

The collection includes reports from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), NASA, the Department of Interior, and other government agencies from the 1970s to the present. There are also transcripts of congressional hearings and other Congressional material that contain discussion of potential laws or issues of concern to the public, Jacobs said….

Microfiche is not a format that can be easily read without using a machine in a library building. Many members of the public are not aware of the material available on microfiche so the potential for finding and using them is heightened once these documents are digitized. And as the information is shared with other federal depository libraries, there will be a ripple effect for researchers, academics, students, and the general public in gaining access….”

New Zealand is about to commit copyright theft – the real kind – Walled Culture

“Whatever you might think of the original bargain, it is now demonstrably far worse. In 1710, copyright’s monopoly lasted 14 years, with an additional 14 years if the creator was still alive at the end of that period. Today, in most parts of the world, the monopoly lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years. Typically, that is over a hundred years from the date of creation, far longer than the modest 14 years of the Statute of Anne.

New Zealand is something of an outlier here. Its copyright term is life plus 50 years. That’s already a long time, but not long enough for the copyright maximalists, who are always working towards their evident goal of perpetual copyright. And it looks like they are going to notch up another victory, as a blog post by Michael Wolfe on the Newsroom site explained last year. An in-principle trade deal between New Zealand the UK will see the former’s copyright term of life plus 50 years become life plus 70 years. What’s remarkable is that extending copyright makes no sense, and the New Zealand government knows it….”

Auguste Rodin’s Sculptures Are In The Public Domain; 3D Scans Of Them Should Be, Too

“Wenman believes that museums, art galleries and private collectors around the world should make 3D scans of important public domain works and release them freely, thereby becoming “engines of new cultural creation”. The Musée Rodin disagrees, presumably because it is concerned that its monopoly on “original” posthumous casts might be devalued. As a result, it has been fighting for some years Wenman’s efforts to obtain the museum’s 3D scans of Rodin’s works through the courts.

Wenman has tweeted an update on his lawsuit. One piece of good news is that thanks to his legal campaign, the scans carried out for the Musée Rodin’s of two famous works – “The Kiss” and “Sleep” – are now freely available. Even better news is that Wenman has discovered the Musée Rodin has scanned its entire collection at high resolution. As he says: “These documents are of world wide interest and immeasurable artistic, academic, cultural, and commercial value. I am going after all of them, for everyone.” …”


Abstract:  Nonprofits, academic institutions, and educators have collaborated, at all academic levels, to create quality Open Educational Resources (OER) since that term was defined by UNESCO in 2002. These opensource educational materials are in the public domain and published under an open license, meaning that they can be freely copied, used, adapted, and re-shared with the public. They include not only textbooks but supplemental educational materials in various media formats. Their value is such that even federal and state legislatures are taking note and passing laws to incentivize the creation and use of OER in both secondary and higher education. Despite the momentum in academics toward the adoption of open textbooks and supplemental materials, legal academia has been slower to embrace open casebooks. By design, OER offers a great deal of flexibility for educators and the promise of cost savings for academic institutions and students. This paper examines the modern history of casebooks and the OER movement, as well as the various OER platforms ideally suited to create open content for law courses. The authors posit that a greater understanding of OER will give law professors and students a wider range of choice and ownership in course materials.




A Search Engine That Finds You Weird Old Books | by Clive Thompson | Jan, 2022 | Debugger

“Still, sifting through old books can be a hassle. You have to go to those search sites and filter for the right vintage (and public-domain-status). It’s a pain.

So: I decided to partly automate this — by making my own search tool.

Behold the Weird Old Book Finder….

Behind the scenes, here’s what it’s doing, which is pretty simple: i) You type in a query, and ii) my app sends it to Google Books, and filters the results for pre-1927 public domain. Then iii) it picks one at random and displays it to you….”

A Search Engine That Finds You Weird Old Books | by Clive Thompson | Jan, 2022 | Debugger

“Still, sifting through old books can be a hassle. You have to go to those search sites and filter for the right vintage (and public-domain-status). It’s a pain.

So: I decided to partly automate this — by making my own search tool.

Behold the Weird Old Book Finder….

Behind the scenes, here’s what it’s doing, which is pretty simple: i) You type in a query, and ii) my app sends it to Google Books, and filters the results for pre-1927 public domain. Then iii) it picks one at random and displays it to you….”

Early Arabic Sound Recordings and the Public Domain – Loeb Music Library

“And thanks to the Music Modernization Act (technically, one of its components, Title II, the Classic Protection and Access Act), sound recordings published prior to 1923 enter the public domain in the United States. This is a really big deal! Since pre-1972 sound recordings didn’t have federal copyright protection until the passage of the MMA, they’ve been languishing in copyright limbo for decades – in some cases, for well over a century – and there are a lot of them: by some estimates, over 400,000 early sound recordings are now part of the public domain. This change to the law dramatically expands our ability to share early 20th-century sound recordings from our collections for listening, research, and reuse.

To celebrate, we’re releasing a small subset of our early 20th century Arabic 78 collection on our new Aviary site. Acquired over many years, the Arabic 78 Collection currently contains nearly 600 cataloged recordings of Arab and Arab-American music spanning the first half of the 20th century, from roughly 1903 through the 1950s, valuable not only for their musical content, but also as artifacts of the early sound recording industry. We’ve been working to digitize this collection over the past several years, and we’re excited to begin sharing it!….”


Creative Commons Public Domain Tools in Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums (GLAMs) – A Needs Assessment

“This survey will be used by Creative Commons for the purposes of analysis to inform our stewardship plans with respect to Creative Commons tools (CC0 (1.0 Universal) Public Domain Dedication and the Public Domain Mark) with a focus on their understanding and use in the GLAM sector. All results will be treated in confidentiality and, if communicated publicly, released anonymously….”

Salvador Alcántar Morán: Mexican Copyright Unfit-for-purpose in the Digital age, the Public Domain, and the Need for a True Multistakeholder Approach and a Global Perspective on Copyright

“Salvador Alcántar Morán is a lawyer, focused on digital copyright, educational technology and digital communications. He is the co-founder of Wikimedia Mexico and of Creative Commons Mexico. He was also manager of the General Direction of Digital Communications of the Mexico City Government. He talks about how the Mexican copyright framework is not adapted to the digital age and shaped mainly by the creative industries, the copyright industry’s scaremongering tactics. He also explains how the fact that Mexico has the lengthiest copyright term (100 years after the author’s death) negatively impacts the country’s collective memory and the public domain. In his view, the public domain should be considered as a human right. He further emphasises the need for normal citizens and other stakeholders, that are currently neglected, to be more involved in shaping a copyright framework that works for the digital age based on a true multistakeholder approach. He also talks about the need for a more global perspective on copyright in general….”

60,000 Digitized Sound Recordings from UCSB to Enter the Public Domain | UCSB Library

“On January 1, 2022, an estimated 400,000 sound recordings published before 1923 will enter the public domain thanks to a law passed in 2018. This is significant because, until 2022, no sound recording has entered the public domain due to copyright expiration. 

The UC Santa Barbara Library has already digitally preserved over 60,000 of those recordings from its collection, which will now be freely accessible to anybody, for any purpose, in high-resolution formats. …”