Lifting restriction on a book your ancestors wrote
We need to be able to give permission to lift a restriction on a book or microfilm that has been restricted once the ancestor that published it has passed. My family needs this information and no one can access it online, we all have to go in person to local family search library. I for one have a hard time getting out to do any walking.
But what about the copyright angle? That may be why the restriction was in place. Making the book's image available online - even in restricted numbers - counts as publishing extra copies, with no benefit to the estate of the copyright holder.
Having said that, there are mechanisms whereby books in copyright can be "lent out" (just like a library does) - I have no idea if FS has that ability, but it would sound like it would be a good idea.0
Having said that, there are mechanisms whereby books in copyright can be "lent out" (just like a library does) - I have no idea if FS has that ability, but it would sound like it would be a good idea.
The Internet Archive has a category based on "Controlled Digital Lending" (CDL) which it calls Books to Borrow https://archive.org/details/inlibrary?tab=about and Libraries can join this scheme. The Internet Archive has extensive legal advice which says this scheme is legal, but I think there may be a legal challenge underway.
FamilySearch, if it wanted to, could have a similar scheme to the Internet Archive, or join the Internet Archive scheme, but perhaps it is not convinced about the legal status of the concept.
My own view is that the FamilySearch Digital Library is at the bottom of FamilySearch's list of priorities, and I wonder if it is the low priority which has meant FamilySearch has done nothing about Controlled Digital Lending.
However, whatever the reason, FamilySearch users are the losers, as FamilySearch has tremendous genealogical assets in its digitised library books and microfilms which cannot be accessed, except at the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City.1
If you share the book title/author perhaps others can help you look on other platforms - or locate a copy for purchase.
General topic comments:
Maybe the estate would allow limited access (perhaps the index for example) and then greater access or purchase of digital copy for a fee. But it's probably easier to just have restricted or open in the case of digital books - otherwise tracking contractual agreements could exhaust resources - basically some people/group constantly trying to update contracts - which wouldn't be a bad thing - but since there are other platforms which might already offer purchase of the copyright book - maybe FamilySearch expects interested persons to just check other platforms?
FamilySearch has also expanded accessibility with the Lookup service (if one knows limited information one is after - i.e. know book page reference) - but yes if an entire copyrighted book is desired, one will have to find/purchase a copy. WorldCat is a good resource to attempt locating a nearby library copy.
Maybe FamilySearch/Community could contribute to maintaining a 'book platforms to check - for copyright restricted books' wiki page - as a helpful resource for users with such requests?0
According to the copyright laws of the United States, the copyright of a work does not expire when the author expires. It expires 70 years after the author's death or 95 years after publication. Then the work passes into the public domain and anyone can use it without any permissions needed. As of January 1, 2023, anything published in 1927 or earlier is freely open to the public.
If you really need to get copyright restrictions lifted on the book you refer to, you have two choices.
1) You can get to work to get copyright laws changed which will be a fruitless endeavor since the estate of Elvis Presley is probably still making millions per year off his works and they are certain to oppose your efforts.
2) You can track down the author's will, figure out who inherited the copyright, contact that person, people, trust, or whatever, and see if you can talk them into contacting FamilySearch and granting public access to the book.
I highly doubt that FamilySearch has the resources to periodically go through their entire catalog and contact all the copyright holders of all the restricted works and ask to modify original agreements to scan a work. I did take a look at the books in FamilySearch's digital collection and unfortunately it does not look like you can search by publication date so unless that date is shown on the title page, which is all that shows in the search results, it does not look possible to see if FamilySearch does change Protected works to Public works year by year as copyright expires.
We should look at this in a positive light and as an example of FamilySearch's forward thinking. Picture someone who has done a lot of good research, publishes a small work in the hope of earning something from it even though that is unlikely to happen, but also sends a copy to FamilySearch to be scanned. Ninety five years from now when all copies have vanished and the author is long dead, FamilySearch can change access from protected to public and all his great-great-grandchildren can have access to it.0
It expires 70 years after the author's death or 95 years after publication. ...
Of course, unless renewed by the estate/current copyright holder (as in the case of Elvis). The purpose of copyright is generally well known.
Copyright from other countries likely have differing rules.
... Or as mentioned above - you can consult other platforms and find a copy to buy (if available). Otherwise if copies for purchase are no longer available, yes, you might be stuck in copyright limbo - and your only practical option is to find the nearest library with a copy (WorldCat is a great resource for such locating).
I did take a look at the books in FamilySearch's digital collection and unfortunately it does not look like you can search by publication date so unless that date is shown on the title page, which is all that shows in the search results, it does not look possible to see if FamilySearch does change Protected works to Public works year by year as copyright expires.
Yes, it would be interesting to know if FamilySearch does actively publish once books enter public domain. But as mentioned there are at least several other platforms that pursue the similar publication of books. It would be interesting to know if these platforms do/could partner with FamilySearch. I assume the Affiliate Libraries are potential partners on the genealogical domain.0
That is the whole purpose of copyright - to allow authors, or their estates, to receive rightfully earned income from their labors. So yes, finding the book at a used bookstore somewhere and buying it is a good course of action.0
it would be interesting to know if FamilySearch does actively publish once books enter public domain
It would indeed - but bear in mind that FS opening a book, opens it up across the globe, and the globe potentially has different copyright rules in different countries. I do wonder how they intend to handle those issues and I am not being sarcastic when I say that I don't envy the decision makers called upon to pronounce whether a book should be available or not.0