Green Shoots in Spring at the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office
lterrat's bookmarks 2017-05-18
"Imagine if you could download a .ZIP file with every single Copyright Office record, from the beginning of time thru, say, 2014, in a standardized and searchable format, free online. Who owns what, when it was published, whether it was renewed, even (dare to dream) when copyrights were sold or licensed exclusively to others, all in your choice of standard formats. What could people build around that free dataset? What could scholars learn? What deals could get done to revive forgotten works for new audiences?
I ask because the Library of Congress just did the equivalent with its MARC records, the electronic version of cards in a card catalog. The Library released 25 million records, its largest public data release ever, for free bulk download online. For years the Library has diligently created, compiled, updated, and distributed these records to libraries through a subscription service, which it will still offer. (The free bulk download doesn’t include the last 2 years’ worth of data, to preserve some incentive for institutional users to maintain the subscription service, presumably a cost-recovery mechanism that supports creation and maintenance of the data).
This is noteworthy because it is deeply inconsistent with the argument from supporters of HR 1695 that the Copyright Office needs to cut ties from the Library in order to 'modernize' its information services. HR 1695 supporters seem to believe that a fusty old library could not properly serve the information needs of the bazillion dollar industries who depend on the Copyright Office for registration, recordation, and related services. The Library’s MARC service shows that, to the contrary, information professionals may be exactly the right people to help create, maintain, and ultimately make available to the public important information about our cultural heritage."