Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Happy 140th Birthday LC Copyright
On July 8, 1870 President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law the bill centralizing all the functions of copyright in the Library of Congress. Since 1870 the Copyright Office has registered over 33 million claims for copyright. As I reported in my previous post centralizing copyright at the Library of Congress was largely due to the efforts of Librarian of Congress Ainsworth Rand Spofford. The requirement that two copyrighted items be deposited with the Library of Congress has been a major factor in the Library becoming the largest library in the world. The U. S. Copyright Office in the Library of Congress has done an excellent job of documenting its history on its website. A brief introduction to the Copyright Office and its history is located HERE. Numerous links to key documents relating to the history of copyright in the United States and at the Library of Congress are located HERE. An interesting bit of trivia at one link notes that the Copyright Card Catalog (no longer active) is the largest card catalog in the world with 45 million cards in 25,675 drawers. "Placed top to bottom, the individual cards would stretch from San Francisco to Detroit and beyond." My show and tell for this post is a postal card mailed by Thorvald Solberg (1852-1940) to a colleague in Germany on October 27, 1887. Solberg began work at the Library of Congress in 1876 in the Law Library, but he also assisted Spofford with copyright. He became an international expert on copyright, and on July 22, 1897 he was appointed the first Register of Copyrights. In the postal card Solberg indicates that he is sending a copy of his "History of International Copyright in Congress" to his colleague in the mail.