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Thanks to The Wired Campus, I stumbled across this nifty digital copyright tool developed by the American Library Association’s Copyright Advisory Network (in the Office for Information Technology Policy). The ALA Copyright Advisory Network is dedicated to educating librarians and others on copyright, something that is no simple matter, since, “with copyright, there are no definitive answers.”
Check out the digital copyright slider. The tool itself is pretty simple. You basically slide the arrow up and down the years starting from “Before 1923”. The boxes on the left (Permission Needed? and Copyright Status/Term) tell you whether a work is still copyrighted or whether it’s now in the public domain, free for you to use and repurpose any way you like. Unfortunately, actually figuring out the copyright status of a work isn’t so simple as dragging your mouse—most of the years seem to be marked by a fuzzy period of “Maybe”. For example, say John Doe wrote and published a poem between 1964-1977 and you are able to find a copyright notice—you still can’t really figure out whether the copyright still applies. And if you can’t find a copyright notice? Well, you just don’t know then either. The same answer (don’t know) seems to apply to a lot of years here…
Props to the ALA for illuminating the incredible complications in US copyright (yeah, that’s right—this sliding scale also only applies to works published within the US). And double props for licensing their tool CC BY-NC-SA. I leave you now with this thought:
Photo licensed CC BY-NC by NancyPosted 17 July 2008