Back in February I reported on the LOC Blog – Copyright Matters. At that time the Copyright Office was well into the digitization of the volumes of the Catalog of Copyright Entries. Last week they reported that the project was nearly complete. You can find 645 volumes on the Internet Archive ranging in date from 1891 to 1978. These volumes provide the initial registration
information for items copyrighted, but do not necessarily reflect current ownership for items still covered by copyright. They are a good first step in the search for copyright information. If you are looking for copyright information later than 1 January 1978 you can access the records from the LOC Copyright page.
Clicking on the Find records Prior to January 1, 1978 will open a .pdf file that tells you about the Copyright Card File and how to use it. There is also an explanation of the Online Records.
It is the ultimate goal of the Library of Congress to provide access to that card catalog for all patrons, whether they are in the library or sitting at their home computer. The digitization of the catalog is well underway with the cards dating back to 1955 nearly complete, but the idea of indexing it is somewhat daunting. OCR is being considered along with other possibilities with the goal of making the card catalog searchable. You can read more about that in Copyright Matters- April 26 .
In an earlier Copyright Matters blog, the public was asked to comment on the worthiness of a virtual card catalog. While I seldom comment on blogs, I felt this was worth the time. After all, how hard is it to pull out a file drawer and check a catalog card. If the entire catalog was put online in the same order that you would find in the library there is no disadvantage.
In fact there is a huge advantage, I can virtually pull out that drawer and search through it for my answer without leaving the comfort of my armchair. No longer will I have to wonder if an item is still in copyright, or hire a researcher to check for me. The library listened and the feedback was positive. They are looking at ways to implement the virtual card catalog for use until a searchable one might become available.
I’m looking forward to both the virtual catalog and the ultimate searchable one!