The Library of Congress Copyright Office is one of the greatest tools for investigating the current copyright status of works. Its archives include over 200 years of information, making it an essential tool for determining who owns what rights and if a certain work is still protected or accessible in the public domain. Of course, with so much information accessible, finding it may be difficult. Thankfully, despite its size, the database may be explored more readily if you know how to utilize it.
Table of Contents
1. Understand What You’re Looking For
The strategies you use will vary based on a variety of criteria, most notably the date of publication of the book you seek. Understanding when the protected content was released is a critical first step toward a more efficient search. Discovering and confirming the copyright status of works produced after 1978 is simple, thanks to the availability of all copyright records since that date at cocatalog.loc.gov. When you wish to locate information on protected works from before that date, the problem becomes more difficult.
2. Go through the Catalog of Copyright Entries.
You could check the Library of Congress card catalogue in person for pre-1978 documents, but it isn’t very handy unless you reside in Washington, DC. The Catalog of Copyright Entries (CCE), which is an index of the copyright entries in the Copyright Office’s records, is the next best search tool. The CCE will be available at most big public libraries in the United States. Each entry contains basic information, such as whether the copyright has been renewed and the name of the current owner. Although the information might be restricted at times, particularly when looking for transfers of intellectual property ownership, it is a great beginning point for any copyright search. You should keep in mind that the CCE does not repeat the registrations exactly, just the most significant details.
3. Narrow Your Search
When you have a few leads to examine, the strategy you employ will be determined by your requirements:
You should concentrate on certificates of registration issued by the Copyright Office to identify the owner. You should pay special attention to section 4, Copyright Claimant and/or Transfer forms.
You must examine the date of the copyright registration to determine if the work has entered the public domain. Public domain works are those that were published before 1923. Works published between 1923 and 1963 are protected for 28 years if the copyright was not renewed, and for 95 years if it was renewed. It’s best to presume that works published after 1923 are protected by copyright.
4. Get Assistance to Save Time
It is important to note that you are not required to do the search on your own. A lawyer who specializes in intellectual property can guide you through the procedure. Similarly, the Library of Congress will do a search for registration entries if you pay an hourly charge to cover the costs.