[PLUG-TALK] Checking old copyrights (2)

Keith Lofstrom keithl at kl-ic.com
Fri Dec 2 20:38:35 PST 2011

On Mon, Nov 14, 2011 at 01:46:49PM -0800, Keith Lofstrom wrote:
> On this list few weeks ago, I looked for help tracking down 
> the renewal status of the 1937 copyright of "Zero to Eighty" by
> "Akkad Pseudoman" a.k.a. Edwin Fitch Northrup.  I got a lot of
> useful information, and planned to visit the Library of Congress
> when I visit Maryland a few weeks from now to verify that the
> copyright was not renewed for this book.

I'm visiting relatives in Maryland, and went down to DC today
to visit the Library of Congress and look at the copyright
files in the Madison building.   About 3000 square feet of
library card catalog cabinets in two large rooms, sorted
according to various schemes systems over the years.   I
signed up online a few days ago for an LoC reader's card,
to get access to the collections.

I found the pink card for Zero to Eighty in the 1898-to-1937
book author's cabinet under Edwin Fitch Northrup, written in
neat Palmer script by C.R. Johnson of the Scientific Publishing
Company on May 12, 1937.  The copyright law of 1964 said that
old works copyrighted before that had to be renewed within
a one year window between 27 and 28 years after the original
copyright, and those cards would be filed in the 1971 to 1977
cabinets.  There were no cards in those years for Northrup,
Pseudoman, or "Zero to Eighty", so I can safely assume that
the copyright has expired, and that the Stanford database
is accurate in this case.

It is a little scary to think that these two rooms contain
the only legal evidence (or non-evidence) for the copyright
for everything produced in the US up to 1964 or so.  Under
the current legislative climate, if this office vanished
in flames, the politicians would probably react by passing
a law presuming all copyrights after 1917 were renewed and
valid forever.

But then, Thomas Jefferson's personal library is in the
building next door, and it would be an even bigger tragedy
to lose that, the fountainhead of the Declaration and 
other important founding documents.  It would be great if
somebody digitized those 5000+ volumes and put them on a
DVD (mostly as ASCII, but some are illustrated and there
are a few with margin notes) in Jefferson's original 
shelf classification order.  Time to lobby Google and the
Internet Archive.  And we need such a collection to remind
us of Jefferson's views on patents and copyright (don't
need them) and the books he read to form those views.

Thanks to all for the suggestions, geneology work, etc. 


Keith Lofstrom          keithl at keithl.com         Voice (503)-520-1993
KLIC --- Keith Lofstrom Integrated Circuits --- "Your Ideas in Silicon"
Design Contracting in Bipolar and CMOS - Analog, Digital, and Scan ICs

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