A coalition of archival workers, activists, and American library workers digitizes books to make them accessible on the Internet for everyone. All books published in the United States before 1924 are in the public domain, which means that they are publicly owned and can be freely used and copied. Books published in 1964 and later are still copyrighted. By law, this right will be valid for 95 years from the date of publication. But the 24–64 years of the twentieth century is a kind of “gray zone”, in which it is not always clear to whom and what rights belong. According to Motherboard, there is a loophole in copyright that allows you to freely read and copy most books published between 1924 and 1964. The problem is to determine which books they are, which can be difficult due to archaic copyright registration systems and confusing and constantly changing copyright laws. Activist librarians and archivists are now working overtime to determine which books are in the public domain, to digitize them, and then upload to the Internet. Some time ago, it was fairly easy to determine whether the copyright for a book published between 1923 and 1964 was extended, since the update records had already been digitized. But to prove that the rights to the book have not been updated is already more difficult, says Sean Redmond, senior product manager for the New York Public Library. “Part of the difficulty is that you are proving the absence of copyright extensions. You are looking for a missing record, ”said Redmond Motherboard. “There used to be no way to list candidate books for the public domain.” However, NYPL recently converted book entries from 1923 to 1964 to XML, which greatly simplified the automation of searching for candidate books to be added to the public domain. Leonard Richardson, a software developer whose scripts help speed things up, told Motherboard that the hardest work has just begun. “It was easy to make a list of books that [copyright] was not renewed, but this list just creates a larger to-do list for someone else,” Richardson said. – The next stage will be slow. “We need to convince the owner of any particular scanned book that he has the right to put it in the public domain.” Richardson notes that most of this work is done by volunteers at organizations such as Project Gutenberg. Now, volunteers from this nonprofit organization must find a copy of the book in question, scan it, check it, and then release the HTML and standard text versions.
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