Sometimes, we need to use work from other writers, often work available online. Yet, in order to do so, it is essential to ensure that no copyright infringement is taking place.
For the lucky ones, the work figures on a website or a blog where contact details are available and it is possible to contact the copyright holder through the site or blog.
Unfortunately, it is not always the case and, to add insult to injury, a centralized place registering all online copyrighted material available does not exist yet. This means that finding if the work we want to use is protected or not is going to take some research through a collection of database, and even then, there is no guarantee to find the copyright holder, nor even to establish if there is one.
So here below is a non-exhaustive list of database recording copyrighted material that might be a good starting point.
- Google Books’s Search of Scans of the Catalog of Copyright Entries offers full-text search, and links to individual volumes, of 91 volumes of copyright registrations from 1922 to 1977.
- Stanford’s Copyright Renewal Database offers a quick search of book renewals made between 1950 and 1992
- A list of first copyright renewals for periodicals forpPeriodicals renewed from 1950 onward (for issues from 1923 onward
- The Copyright Office database is the definitive record of recent registrations.
With a bit of luck, that should do the trick.