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Libraries Are Scanning Books That Are Secretly in the Public Domain (vice.com)
71 points by clydethefrog 30 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 6 comments

It's not a "quirk" in copyright law or a "loophole" — books before 1964 had a 28 years copyright period, which could be renewed and many authors didn't do that. It was "secret" because up to recently it was difficult to find out whether the copyright was renewed, but now the information is easily available (it was always public, as far as I understand).

agreed. the language right there makes it seem as if this is some nefarious stuff happening. as if ridiculously overblown copyright terms are somehow a natural default state.

Am I just dim or does this make it sound like libraries are doing so unwittingly?

Not unwittingly.

We finally have tools to check whether a renewal wasn't submitted, and so can check against that negative to see if the book should be available publicly, and can be scanned and returned to the public without negative consequences.

The New York Public Library appears to be a major player in this initiative, which suggests that the libraries are likely doing so quite intentionally.


I've tried to find some interesting books in those XMLs but so far I haven't really found anything worth of note for a modern reader.

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