Project Goals


Digitize the content of the Copyright Card Catalog records

The digitization and indexing of no other Copyright records can provide the completeness and accuracy that can be realized from the digitization and indexing of the Copyright Card Catalog. To the extent it remains in paper form, this nucleus of pre-1978 Copyright Office records will remain off-line. There is no other copy for 78% of the cards in the catalog. If the card catalog were destroyed, searches for titles, authors and claimants would require significantly more time and in some cases might be impossible. Many and possibly a majority of the works recorded in the card catalog are still under copyright protection and the loss of this index would certainly exacerbate the problem of orphan works. The card catalog is considered the most up-to-date index to copyright records prior to 1978. It has been updated over time to reflect corrections and updates sometimes with pen and ink changes and sometimes with new cards, and cancellations in which case the cards were removed from the catalog.

Capture the content from the catalog card images and create indexed data records

The catalog cards are the principal finding aids for information about registrations, transfers and assignments of pre-1978 copyrights. They contain the index terms including titles, related titles, authors, claimants, pseudonyms and other access points. They also contain the assigned registration and recorded document numbers and key copyright facts. The goal is to capture the content from the cards and create indexed data records with links to the source records. The records would be combined with the existent online data records from 1978 to the present including registrations and recorded documents. Each pre-1978 data record would include links to images of the respective cards. This is the main focus of the project since it will lead to the most effective use of the records online via the web.

Digitize the content of the published volumes of the Catalog of Copyright Entries

The periodic publication of the Catalog of Copyright Entries from 1891 to 1977 consisted of compilations of registrations ranging in frequency from semiweekly in the early years to semiannual in the later years. The Copyright Office has two complete bound sets of the CCEs. Except for some handwritten annotations in these two sets, the CCEs were not updated to reflect corrections, cancellations and other changes that were made in the card catalog. As a preservation measure, scanning of the 660 bound volumes was begun in 2010 and is very near completion. This not only provided further backup for the registration records but also enabled searching of the CCE data online. However as mentioned earlier, they may not contain all updates and they dont contain entries for recorded documents, so the CCE entries may not provide the full record of ownership for a particular copyright.

Digitize the content of the bound Record Books of copyright applications and requests for registration and link each image to its respective data record

Early record book entries were transcriptions of the key copyright facts provided by the applicant. During the years when the application was in the form of a 36 or 66 card, approximately 1909 to the mid 1940s, the entries contained the principal facts transcribed from the card in a ledger format. The application cards were filed in the card catalog. The making of ledger entries was ceased in the mid 1940s and in their place copies of the issued registration certificates were bound into record books. Beginning in the late 1940s when the application was changed to a page sized form, the applications, after being processed, were bound into record books organized by year and class. Linking the image of the application or request for registration to its data record will provide access to all of the copyright facts given by the applicant about the work. Microfilm copies exist for all record books and scanning of the microfilm might facilitate digitization if the quality is acceptable for long term preservation purposes.

Review the existent images of recorded documents and link them to their respective data records

The Copyright Office has PDF image files of recorded documents that were made from the microfilm copies. An assessment will be made of the quality of these existent PDF images and if found acceptable they will be used as is. If they are not acceptable this goal will be expanded to determine what would be required and what it would cost to produce improved images from the microfilm. Achieving these five project goals could result in a single database of copyright records searchable by title, author, claimant, registration number or recorded document number with links to images of pre-1978 cards, applications, and recorded documents. The database could eventually cover the period from 1790 to the present.

Achieving these five goals could result in a single database of copyright records searchable by title, author, claimant, registration number or recorded document number with links to images of pre-1978 cards, applications, CCE entries, and recorded documents. The database could eventually cover the period from 1790 to the present.