Copyright renewal records for US books finally online


15 Responses to “Copyright renewal records for US books finally online”

  1. nilesgibbs says:

    Simply wonderful!

  2. Anonymous says:

    We Distributed Proofreaders didn’t type in each word. It was scanned and OCRed.

    We did however proofread every word of the OCR twice then reformat it as a plain text document with consistent formatting for each entry so our bit is probably pretty close to what is in the original and could be converted to XML.

    If you want to help proofread the worlds literature then you take 10 minutes to proofread just one page at Do a page a day and after a year that’s like a whole book!

  3. orwant says:


    No free Harlan here, I’m afraid. Rightsholders had to renew within the 28th year after publication, but lag at the Copyright Office often led to the renewal date occurring in the 29th year.

  4. Doug Nelson says:

    Where’s the one click? All I found was a 50MB zip file. There’s a lot of clicks involved in reading this. Where’s the online version? They’re google, for crying out lout, they should have an online version. A 50MB zip file available for download is not the same thing as “records online”.

    Plus it crashed my browser when I tried to read the file.

  5. Kieran O'Neill says:

    Lol. Cory did say “one click … (more or less)”.

    For now, I’d guess it’s more like “one small script in the language of your choice”, but it probably won’t be long before someone hacks together a generic solution for the less technical.

    wxPython, anyone?

  6. eclectro says:

    Google, please give this person a raise.

  7. nilesgibbs says:

    Now that I’ve actually looked at it, it’s like, come on Google! Where’s the custom Google copyright search? If they spent as much time on it as they claimed they did, why not go the extra couple hours and auto-import this into a wiki/blog/cms somewhere so then Google can index it?

  8. Kieran O'Neill says:

    #5: “why not go the extra couple hours and auto-import this into a wiki/blog/cms somewhere”

    You try that on a 200-300MB XML file, and see what comes out.

    Give them (or the FOSS community) time. (Or develop a solution yourself.)

    I would propose a lightweight, cross-platform desktop app, that you just point at the file.

  9. ChuckEye says:

    Grep is your friend…
    So Harlan Ellison’s smut collection “Sex Gang” had its copyright registered 1959-09-08 and renewed 1987-12-11. When they say 28 years, do they mean to the date? ’cause if not, he was about 3 months late…

  10. AlexanderT says:

    Check out

    It’s a database-driven full-text search engine using above Google records.

    Suggestions and feedback always appreciated.


  11. Michael R. Bernstein says:

    While this is very nice, there is a rather large category of works in Google Book Search that despite being rather indisputably in the public domain are still not displayed in full. These works in fact *never* enjoy copyright protection, no matter when they were published (even last year).

    I’m referring to works authored by the U.S. Government. Try this search as an example:

    That search has 45k results across all works. If you look for ‘Full View only’, the results dwindle to about 5,700, leaving ~39k results that should be full view, but aren’t.

    And of course, there are other searches with similar (if generally fewer) results.

  12. pcgorman says:

    Stanford University has had a search interface for the renewal records for some time now:

    They also used the Gutenberg-transcribed records. You want to be careful in searching this data, as the titles and names may not correspond exactly to what you see on the title page. I usually try a number of different searches before being satisfied something’s not in the data.

  13. John Mark Ockerbloom says:

    A variety of links to various versions of these and other renewal records can be found at

    along with some tips on how to use them.

  14. AlfonsoElSabio says:

    @3, get a grip.

    Be grateful that the file is available at all …

  15. fALk says:

    For a lack of better space I would like to thank the tireless folks at the mentioned institutions for making this possible. I never understand why the governments of this world make it so hard to access public knowledge. An open society where everyone just helps everyone without the exchange of money for the benefit of the greater good is the closest to garden eden I can imagine in the 21st century.

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