Contexts: Source

Copyright Information

A 1961 Copyright Office study found that fewer than 15% of all registered copyrights were renewed. For books, the figure was 7%.See Barbara Ringer, "Study No. 31: Renewal of Copyright" (1960), reprinted in Library of Congress Copyright Office,Copyright law revision: Studies prepared for the Subcommittee on Patents, Trademarks, and Copyrights of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Eighty-sixth Congress, first [-second] session. (Washington: U. S. Govt. Print. Off, 1961), p. 220. The following list of sites has been culled from a variety of online resources in an attempt to provide an accurate, updated body of reliable information on copyright issues affecting post-1922 British & American magazines. This page will remain in a perpetual state of construction; it will be regularly updated and revised. New links and resources will be added as they become available.

  • Begin your search with the U.S. Copyright Office [Public Catalog of Post-1978 Records], which offers multiple search options on thousands of records registered for U.S. Copyright after 1978. SEARCH on Title, Name, Keyword, Registration, Document Number, or Command Keyword.

  • Stanford University Librairies' [Copyright and Fair-Use Resource Center] has information on research at the U.S. Copyright Office and Library of Congress: 1) registration records, 2) renewal notices, 3) dates of first publication, 4) and current copyright owners' records.

  • Google has made the U.S. Copyright Office [Catalog of Copyright Entries, 1922-1977] available for full-text search. This Pre-1978 Catalog of Copyright Entries is the official publication of copyright registrations and renewals, organized into categories of works.

  • Cornell University Law School hosts this [Searchable, Full-text TITLE 17, U.S. Code], an editon of the most current U.S. Copyright Law, along with Notes, Annotations, Cross-References, and Authority Lists.

Online Sources

The [US Copyright Office] provides key publications including informational circulars; application forms for copyright registration; links to the copyright law and latest regulations; and online copyright records cataloged since 1978.

See also the US Copyright Office circular, [How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work]. [Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, Copyright Office, 2004].

Stanford University Librairies's [Resources: Copyright Websites] is a curated collection of different copyright-related websites, databases, or digital projects, from Creative Commons to the Library of Congress.

The [WATCH File], run jointly by the Harry Ransom Center and University of Reading Library, is a searchable database of copyright contacts for writers, artists, and prominent figures in other creative fields.

SFWA's [Estate Project] has assembled, and is maintaining, a database of authors' estates which includes contact info. for their heirs and/or agents, enabling interested parties to seek permissions, make payments and double-check rights.

The University of Pennsylvania Libraries' [Online Books Page] facilitates public access to books that are freely available over the Internet. It also aims to encourage the development and dissemination of online books.

See especially the OLBP [Copyright Registration and Renewal Records], [FAQ], and resources [How Can I Tell Whether a Book Can Go Online?] and [How Can I Tell Whether a Copyright Was Renewed?]

Peter Hirtle's [Copyright Renewal, Copyright Restoration, and Difficulty of Determining Copyright Status] discusses the impact that copyright restoration of foreign works has had on US copyright status investigations.

Cornell University's [Copyright Information Center] serves as a useful information clearinghouse and includes resources, general information, reference materials, and video tutorials on copyright-related questions.

The Visual Resources Association (VRA) and the VRA-Intellectual Rights Committee has compiled this list of resources, [Intellectual Property Rights Resources], located on the VRA website.

[Copyright Data] provides extensive information about US Copyright Law, compiles Tree Charts, Illustrations Pages, Citations, and Court Summaries to present the data, and includes full-text copies of every version of the US Copyright Act from 1909 to Present.

Yale University Library's [Visual Resources Collection's Guide] includes sections on copyright-related scholarship, university copyright resources, non-university intellectual property resources, annotated lists, and helpful tables.


Another helpful guide to investigating the copyright and renewal status of a published work is Samuel Demas and Jennie L. Brogdon, "Determining Copyright Status for Preservation and Access: Defining Reasonable Effort," Library Resources and Technical Services 41:4 (October, 1997): 323-334.