Copyright RFI on Crowd Sourcing Mass Digitization of Pre-1978 Copyrighted Works

BY Ali Sternburg
May 1, 2012

According to FBO.gov (short for FedBizOpps.gov, which in turn naturally stands for Federal Business Opportunities), the U.S. Copyright Office has issued a request for information about digitizing pre-1978 works.

The RFI explains that the Copyright Office “has initiated a project to digitize and make available online the historical records of copyrights dating from 1870 to 1977” and in the future expects to put out a request for proposals “to select one or more organizations with the skills, experience and equipment to support the capture of information through crowd sourcing.”  In the meantime, this initial RFI is “to determine the scope and extent of services available in the marketplace to accomplish the crowd sourcing effort.”

The information does not appear to be available yet on the Copyright Office’s website or FederalRegister.gov.

The RFI explains just how many works would be made available to the public through this initiative:  “The pre-1978 records in the Copyright Office reflect approximately 16.4 million original and renewal registrations dating back to 1870, and approximately 350,000 assignments, transfers and terminations of copyright ownership involving 1.7 million titles.”

It is exciting to see the Copyright Office embracing the concept of “crowd sourcing” by capable private entities, especially after there had been so much controversy around the Google Books settlement, even given all of the public benefit of that undertaking.  CCIA has in the past supported Google’s initiatives in that project at home and abroad.

The response date for this initial RFI is set for two weeks from now—May 15, 2012.  Please see: https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=182eedb3817215f04f20be9a8a891e4c for more information and to get involved.

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