Copyright renewal list now available for download

If you need to use a work on the Internet, you need to be aware (and careful) about its copyright. After all, copyright restrictions are becoming more and encompassing by the day. But what if you want to use content which is specifically in the public domain? How do you find out if the work you are thinking of using has passed into the public domain?

For work created in US, the following applies:

If the work was published before 1923, then it’s in the public domain in the U.S., so anyone can use it. After 1923, up to 1964, it’s in the public domain unless copyright was officially renewed. All formal renewals have been listed by the Copyright Office, each year.

So for the work created between 1923 to 1964, how do you get the information on the net whether a copyright has been renewed?

You have to check the U.S. Copyright Office records. Records from 1978 onward are online but not downloadable in bulk. The Copyright Office hasn’t digitized their earlier records, but Carnegie Mellon scanned them as part of their Universal Library Project, and the tireless folks at Project Gutenberg and the Distributed Proofreaders painstakingly typed in every word.

Now Google has merged both the databases and offered them as a single downloadable XML file in the public domain. Nice!

Anyone reading this who knows the Indian copyright laws for the same?

My first 419 mail in hindi! Fight terror, but don't turn India into a police state