Copyright Renewal Records Available for download

Thanks to Jill Hurst-Wahl’s Digitization 101 blog, we learned last week that there may be some movement in the pace of book digitization with the release of bulk copyright renewal records from 1978 onward. This is big news for the online availability of many secondary sources of history.

Here is a snippet:

How do you find out whether a book was renewed? You have to check the U.S. Copyright Office records. Records from 1978 onward are online (see http://www.copyright.gov/records) but not downloadable in bulk. The Copyright Office hasn’t digitized their earlier records, but Carnegie Mellon scanned them as part of their Universal Library Project, and the tireless folks at Project Gutenberg and the Distributed Proofreaders painstakingly corrected the OCR.

Thanks to the efforts of Google software engineer Jarkko Hietaniemi, we’ve gathered the records from both sources, massaged them a bit for easier parsing, and combined them into a single XML file available for download here.

Jill also pointed us to comments made by Siva Vaidhyanathan of The Institute For The Future of The Book:

This is great news for historians, journalists, researchers, publishers, and librarians. It’s also great for the Open Content Alliance and other book digitization projects.

Of course, this does not help much with books published and copyrighted outside of the United States. But that’s always a complication

Google itself is going to use these records to change the format of many of the scanned books published between 1923 and 1963. Currently, these are only available in &#8220snippet&#8221 form. Will Google Book Search change significantly now that this file is available?

It looks promising that there may be an expansion of the online availability of titles published between 1923 and 1963 at Google Book Search, the Internet Archive, and places like Boing Boing. Today, the news that Microsoft’s Live Book Search is no more, seems even more antithetical to the trend.

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