This article is Part 3 of a 4 part series on potential paths for opening content in HathiTrust.
Individual review of a HathiTrust volume to see if it met required copyright formalities is a potential path to opening volumes published in the United States before 1978. (For volumes published even earlier - more than 95 years ago - see the Introduction article.) A human reviewer may check to see if a registered volume had its copyright renewed, and to see if a volume included a copyright notice. The HathiTrust Copyright Review Program has been doing individual reviews of various sets of content since 2009. And the Google Books Support Team is often willing to review the copyright status of individual volumes.
No Copyright Renewal on US Volumes published before 1964
Books published in the United States before 1964 had to be formally renewed to retain their copyright status. If the copyright was not renewed, the volume is in the public domain. HathiTrust’s simple bibliographic algorithm cannot determine whether a volume was renewed or not; a knowledgeable human has to review the book and check renewal records to make an accurate determination.
A recent project at the New York Public Library estimates that only 25% of the 642,000 works registered for copyright in the United States between 1923 and 1963 have been renewed. This means that 480,000 of these volumes were not renewed and may be in the public domain. These volumes might contain other copyrighted works like illustrations which may mean they cannot be opened for access. But still, there are hundreds of thousands of books that are likely in the public domain that are closed for access because of the overwhelming resources required to review each one individually.
Since 2009, volunteers for HathiTrust’s Copyright Review Program have been reviewing US monographs published before 1964 to see if they are in the public domain due to lack of copyright renewal. They also check for a copyright notice as part of the review process. They have completed more than 800K reviews and opened more than 218K books as public domain. There are still potentially hundreds of thousands of HathiTrust volumes that are closed that could be opened if they were reviewed by the Copyright Review Program.
If you are interested in gaining access to a restricted HathiTrust volume published in the United States before 1964, please submit a ticket. We might be able to help get the book reviewed and opened.
No Copyright Notice in Volumes Published In United States from before 1978
Volumes published in the United States before 1978 had to be published with a copyright notice in order to have copyright protection; without one, they fell into the public domain. So did works published without a copyright notice before 1989, if they weren’t registered with the copyright office within 5 years. A copyright notice generally includes the word “copyright” or a copyright mark (©), date of copyright, and name of copyright holder. It is generally printed in the front (or back) matter of the publication. Exceptions to this requirement include dissertations, reprints, and new or revised editions.
If you are interested in gaining access to a restricted HathiTrust volume published in the United States between before 1989 that you believe lacks a copyright notice, please submit a ticket. We might be able to help get the book reviewed and opened.
This article is part 3 of a 4 part series on Potential Paths to Opening Content in HathiTrust: