While many important books are still under copyright, there are
many classic works that could find broader audiences if they
were easily available.
Determining the United States copyright status of a work is
sometimes difficult even for professionals, says Jessica Littman
in her seminal book _Digital_Copyright:_Protecting_Intellectual_
_Property_on_the_Internet_. But in many cases there are useful
formulas, such as Stephen Fishman's _The_Public_Domain:_How_
Evidence of copyright status can be determined by the
publication date, whether a work was originally registered
for copyright, and whether the copyright has been renewed.
The Open Library strives to make materials as open available
as is legally allowed. The initial collections will be built using
materials now in the public domain. Digitized out-of-copyright
books can be offered for free access without restrictions,
allowing patrons to read, print, share, study, and excerpt.
The Open Library will rely on Creative Commons licenses to
encourage the greatest possible degree of access to and
reuse of the materials, consistent with respect for the
rights or content owners and contributors.
As the technology of digital books develop, we hope the
market also makes distributing in-print materials profitable,
so all books will be available online.
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