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The Price of the Copyright Catalog

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There has been a bit of a blogospheric brouhaha over what the Library of Congress charges to make its entire Copyright database available (see here and here, for example)?enough so that we have now put out this statement:

Regarding Pricing on Bulk Access to Copyright Cataloging Information

Recent questions and concerns have arisen regarding the cost of providing the Copyright Cataloging database subscription service to the public.

The U.S. Copyright Office neither sets the price nor receives any direct revenue from the sale of the Copyright Cataloging database. Rather, access to these records is a service offered through the Cataloging Distribution Service (CDS) of the Library of Congress, which is mandated by Congress to provide this and other services to the public at a charge of production and distribution cost plus 10%. In fact, the mission of CDS is to share the Library?s vast bibliographic resources with American libraries, the American people and the international information community on a cost-recovery basis.

These databases and their weekly updates require considerable personnel and other resources to maintain and deliver. Each year, CDS evaluates its implementation and maintenance costs and determines pricing of its many products based on these costs. At the close of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, CDS will make recommendations to Library management for cost adjustment on all its products and services, based upon its Congressional mandate.

Fortunately, recent cost savings realized within CDS are anticipated to result in a drop in the price of many services available from CDS, including the Copyright Cataloging database subscription service. Any new pricing structure will appear first at on the CDS Web site in late October or early November 2007, then in the 2008 CDS Catalog of Products in January 2008.

Finally, the Copyright database is accessible to all free of charge on a record-by-record basis through the U.S. Copyright Office Web site at

Comments (9)

  1. You say: “These databases and their weekly updates require considerable personnel and other resources to maintain and deliver.”

    Most Americans would say that this is a function of government that is already paid for.

    Oh, wait, looks like it is all free on the Internet Now – FOREVER!

  2. If the cost is calculated as described in the statement, how is it that this group of “guerilla librarians” is able to offer the entire thing for free?

  3. I get all kinds of mixed messages regarding copyright and copyright protection (even from patent lawyers). I copyright everything but wondering if I’m overpaying.


    Rick London

  4. WiserEarth has gone through similar debate in our online community. We found that using a creative commons noncommercial license allowed us to control the content of our directory, while still giving the appropriate amount of public access:

  5. Indeed Creative Commons noncommercial license allows to control the content of publications, while still giving public access

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