Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Date of this Version


Document Type



Finding the Public Domain: Copyright Review Management System Toolkit, Melissa Levine, Richard C. Adler, Justin Bonfiglio, Kristina Eden, and Brian S. Hall


© 2016, Regents of the University of Michigan, licensed under CC- BY 4.0


Working over a span of nearly eight years, the University of Michigan Library received three grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to generously fund CRMS, a cooperative effort by partner research libraries to identify books in the public domain in HathiTrust. In CRMS- US (2008– 11), CRMS reviewed over 170,000 volumes in the HathiTrust Digital Library that were published in the United States between 1923 and 1963 (“CRMS- US”). That first project team— which included reviewers from the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Minnesota, and Indiana University— identified nearly 87,000 volumes as being in the public domain, in addition to collecting renewal information and identifying rights holders of works in copyright. In CRMS- World (2011– 14), we built on that accomplishment by reviewing an additional 110,000 US volumes and expanded the scope of the review to include 170,000 English- language volumes published in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia between 1872 and 1944 (“CRMS- World”). This second grant continued through the end of 2014 and included initial development on an interface for works from Spain, a process for quality control, and an expanded suite of materials to allow an expert member of our project team to train and monitor reviewers online. The current CRMS grant (2014– 16) simultaneously made possible continued copyright review of CRMS- World volumes, the development of this toolkit, and planning related to the long- term sustainability of CRMS. We are hopeful that, whatever the near term brings for CRMS as an individual project, the valuable work of identifying public domain works will continue. We are grateful for the support and collaboration of all who have touched this project.