Lately i have been trolling for material to reprint..following my nose on the internet or at actual libraries and special collections. There is a surprising amount of non scanned material out there, some of it is uninteresting..but then, i am a geek and i find even the dusty stuff fascinating. I keep my camera in my pocket at these places and when i see something i just start shooting it..and when i get home i toss it on my new 2 terabyte hard drive (knew i needed that thing) even if i know i won’t get to it anytime soon. (apparently Digital Hoarding is now a THING) btw I found some very helpful advice on collecting digital images of documents here subchaser.org/photographing-documents, but for the most part i am not looking to reproduce the document, just the words. I have been relying heavily on a couple of programs for doing this..one is free..FreeOCR v3 which is adorable…it’s is simple and powerful little tool, using a split screen to convert pdfs, tiffs, and jpgs to text..and if it can’t make it out..you can do like i do…just read it with your eyes and type it with your fingers. (i’m doing that a lot) the other program which is NOT free, i use damn near everyday..adobe acrobat..not acrobat reader…the actual parent program which costs money..sorry buy an older version if you have to, but DAMN that’s good stuff. It allows you to build and break down PDFs, probably a lot of other things, but that’s what i use it for. I think mine is from 2006, but it still works just fine.
I had my eye on reprinting a local history book from 1924. Now MOST of the time something from 1924 has fallen out of print from lack interest. As it happens this guy was a lawyer and in 1952 he actually renewed his copyright even though he never reprinted his book. That piece of information took me 2 weeks to figure out..only because i wasn’t really trying…yesterday i tried and figured it out.
Turns out that before 1922 everything is safe…between 1923 and 1965 it is a MAYBE. The copyright owner would have had to renew it On time..publicdomainsherpa.com/copyright-renewal.html was especially helpful in explaining this strange limbo zone…also how the US Gov has not finish digitizing the Copyright and renewal entries between 1977 and 1923 – yes they are going backwards. see www.copyright.gov/records.
Of COURSE the item I was looking for dwelt in this nebulous zone between absolutely safe to reproduce and the Sonny Bono land of ‘you won’t live to see it in PD’ land ….and i kept thinking no way did they renew it back in 1952 if they weren’t going to reprint it…but faster than the USGOV – the special collections library at Stanford managed to scan in the missing areas of the Copyright renewal entries…collections.stanford.edu/copyrightrenewals
and thus i found a listing that confirmed my suspicions that the 1924 edition was still under copyright – but i know who owns it now, The local history center, but technically they only own the parts that are different from the 1918 version. So big deal, i get to reproduce the longer much more illustrated 1918 version, and I will have a chat with them about the later material.
None of this is a big deal…I have PLENTY of other work to work on….as a matter of fact yesterday I condemned myself to writing a history of my city. No there isn’t one..there are a lot of books written about the edges..but not a one volume edition. While the local historian and I were poking through his collection, we found an old anniversary event program from 1923..and in it, is the typical Methuen wording “this programme was to have included a short history of the town, but we have been told that a complete town history is coming and may be published before this event, so instead here is a thumbnail sketch of our town during the Revolutionary War.” needless to say 90 years later there is still no appearance of this history of the town. that is SOOO my city in a nutshell.