Sunday, March 01, 2009

copyright registries

I attended a great presentation by Siva Vaidhyanathan and James Grimmelmann at Georgetown University last Friday on the Google Book Search settlement. The question that I most wanted to raise during the discussion period (why did the facilitator never call on me?) was about their opinions on the proposed registry. This seems to me to be one of the topics most in need of clarification in the settlement.

I chatted with both of them afterwards. I worry about a potential lack of transparency of the registry's contents and its mode of operation. I have heard Dan Clancy from Google say that it will not be made fully publicly available.

While there a student from the University of Michigan School of Information mentioned Michigan's IMLS grant supported effort to create a Copyright Review Management System to increase the reliability of copyright status determinations of books published in the United States from 1923 to 1963. Last week Lorcan Dempsey was blogging about the OCLC Copyright Registry Evidence Initiative. Stanford has a Copyright Renewal Database. John Mark Ockerbloom at the University of Pennsylvania researched periodicals renewals in addition to posting scans from many volunteer institutions (including Carnegie Mellon's and Project Gutenberg's extensive work) in his Catalog of Copyright Entries. The U.S. Copyright Office has records from 1978 onward online.

So, where does a Library (or anyone, for that matter?) go to research the copyright status of a published work? One of these places? All of these places? And where might the ownership status of orphan works someday be researched and recorded and made public? What will be the most authoritative source? Will there be open resources and less open resources? This looks like an area where there might be too much competition, almost a splintering of attention that calls out for a sense of coordination in the community.

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