Hiding in Plain Sight Public

Using Copyright Renewal Data to Uncover Resources in the Public Domain

The objective of this study was to compare the copyright renewal rate for maps to that of monographs. The HathiTrust has engaged in copyright review for 10 years, during which time over 360,000 items published in the U.S. between 1923 and 1963 had their copyright status examined. Results indicate an average of 55% of these items are now in the public domain because their copyright was not renewed. If public domain is the ultimate open access, there is great value in projects that expose additional materials for public use. The HathiTrust copyright review project focuses on monographs. This study examines whether maps have similar rates of non-renewal as monographs and thus provide more possibilities for access. The Catalog of Copyright Entries was searched to determine copyright renewals for maps published in the United States between 1923 and 1963. Initial results found 52% of maps examined had not had their copyright renewed and thus were in the public domain.

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