Submissions:2018/Growing the free library: Discovering, documenting, and digitizing public domain periodical literature from most of the 20th century

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Growing the free library: Discovering, documenting, and digitizing public domain periodical literature from most of the 20th century
Theme Relationship Building & Support / Tech & Tools
Academic Peer Review option
Type of submission
John Mark Ockerbloom
E-mail address
Wikimedia username
Affiliation(s) (optional)
University of Pennsylvania

Libraries hold large collections of periodical literature from the 20th century that are of interest to Wikipedians, but that are currently only available in print form or behind paywalls. Yet much of this literature as late as the 1960s or even the 1980s is in the public domain in the US and can be placed online by anyone interested, because copyright was not renewed, or other copyright formalities were not observed. Until recently, though, it has been very difficult or time-consuming to determine what periodical literature is public domain due to factors like these, and what is still under copyright.

In this presentation, I will show and discuss the results of a project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services to make it much easier to clear up copyright uncertainties for 20th-century magazines, newspapers, scholarly journals, and other periodical and serial literature. We have published a complete inventory of all periodicals with active copyright renewals made up to 1977, giving the issue dates for each periodical's first renewal. (Our inventory complements an existing database at the Copyright Office where one can look up renewals from 1978 onwards.) We have prepared a step-by-step guide on how to use this inventory and other resources to determine the US copyright status of periodical literature. We are also converting this inventory into structured JSON data files that are now interlinkable with Wikidata, and that can be enhanced by interested Wikipedians and others.

We Wikipedians and librarians can use this data and guide to help clear copyrights for material published in periodicals that could be digitized from library collections and included or quoted in places like Wikipedia or Wikisource. We can add further details about periodical issue and contribution renewals that can make it easier to clear copyrights to specific issues or works of interest published well after 1922 (the usual stopping point for many digitization projects). We can add or link to periodical contents and author information that can help Wikipedians find sources of interest, clear copyrights outside the US, and even track down rightsholders to get permission to use their content. We can further integrate this information with Wikidata to build up an open global knowledge base of periodical literature and its rights, to support making as much of it free to the world online as we can. Come to this presentation to learn how, and to share ideas about making the most of these resources.

Length of presentation
20 minutes (give or take)
Special requests
Need projector and screen for showing slides from my Mac. If there's reliable internet (wireless or USB-compatible wired) I could also give a short demo/walkthrough of the project's web pages and data.
Preferred room size
Have you presented on this topic previously? If yes, where/when?
I did a presentation around the beginning of this project at the Digital Library Federation Forum in 2017. Slides and notes are at . This presentation, which will take place just after the end of the project, will show what's it's accomplished, and how Wikipedians can use and add to what we produced.
If you will be incorporating a slidedeck during your presentation, do you agree to upload it to Commons before your session, with a CC-BY-SA 4.0 license, including suitable attribution in the slidedeck for any images used?
Will you attend WikiConference North America if your submission is not accepted?
Probably not.

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