During the first 6 weeks of this blog’s existence we’ve received many thoughtful and helpful comments from visitors. Your comments are being carefully studied and used as input to decision making about what records to work on first and how to capture, index and make them available.
Optical character recognition (OCR) and crowd sourcing have been mentioned and both are on the table as ways to facilitate data capture and overcome resource constraints. Through testing, discussions with other organizations, and input from experts we are aware of the benefits and limitations, but nevertheless see opportunities to apply them to some Copyright records.
As to which records we should focus on first, there were a couple of mentions of assignment and transfer records. These are a separate set of about 2.5 million cards pointing to about 350,000 assignment and transfers from 1891 to 1977. They would form a complement to the Catalog of Copyright Entries gradually being made available through the Internet Archive website (http://www.archive.org/details/copyrightrecords). Also mentioned were records for copyrights first registered between 1923 and 1963. If these works were never renewed, they may well be in the public domain. A third set mentioned was the 1971 to 1977 registration records because of the recency of the records. Let us know which of these three sets or what other set would be most valuable to you.
Some comments referred to how we might construct the data record and how it would appear online. One option is to include in the data record all of the information in the catalog cards for a registration or assignment/transfer and enable word searching across the content. Search results could be refined by category and class of material, and limits set by date. The records would contain pointers to images of the respective paper records. We are building a demonstration model using a small set of interrelated records (i.e., registration, renewal, assignment for several works) that we’ll share through the blog. Look for a future post with the URL.
Rather than reinvent wheels, we have conferred with other organizations including the National Archives, Ancestry.com, Internet Archive and others and learned from their experience. Among the comments were references to some others including the Patent and Trademark Office, Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania where they are working with copyright or similar records. We’ll take a fresh look at how they have approached the challenge.
Your input is important. Thank you for your comments and I encourage you to use this blog as an opportunity to influence how the pre-1978 records are made available online. The more we hear from you, the better informed will be our decisions.