The U.S. Copyright Act provides a little known and virtually unused exception specifically for libraries and archives. It allows them to reproduce and distribute a work in the last twenty years of its copyright, if there is no normal commercial exploitation of the work and there is no copy of the work available at a reasonable price. This exception resides in Section 108(h) of the U.S. Copyright Act.
To use this exception, libraries and archives necessarily have to be able to determine whether a work meets all of the exception's requirements. The difficulty of doing so has been a hurdle that's at least partially responsible for why this exception has not been widely used.
Is this a hurdle that could be overcome? Could Section 108(h) be made usable for libraries?
In recent months, Team Durationator has been on a joint quest to answer these questions. Working directly with the Internet Archive and in consultation with the New York Public Library, the Harvard University Library, and the Frick Collection, Team Durationator has been engaged in extensive research on this matter.
The positive results of this joint work now are beginning to emerge. At their recent annual meeting with their library partners, the Internet Archive announced the release of their inaugural Sonny Bono Memorial Collection -- a collection of 108(h) eligible, full-text works made available to the public through their website. Generally labeled as "Last Twenty" works to indicate their 108(h) eligibility, these works have been placed into the Sonny Bono Memorial Collection to associate them with the law that created Section 108(h) in 1998.
Durationator is excited to have undertaken the researching of this area of copyright law, to be consultants to the Internet Archive to assist them in launching this collection, and to have conducted the copyright status determinations for the works in the inaugural collection.