Copyright Slider: Quick Easy Access to Copyright Laws and Guidelines

ALA OITP Copyright SliderThanks to Digitization 101’s post I learned about the Copyright Slider. A creation of the ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) – you can find more official information over on ALA’s Washington Office blog (Let the OITP Copyright Slider Answer Your Questions!) and order one of your own for only a bit more than $5 (less if you order in bulk).

The Copyright Slider lets you answer questions such as (quoting the post linked to above):

  • Is a work in the public domain?
  • Do you need permission to use it?
  • When does copyright expire?

Here is their example of how it might be used:

A library in rural Pennsylvania is digitizing its local historical collection on the copper mining industry in the region. One of the collection texts, Memoirs of a Copper Miner, was published in 1953 and is still protected by copyright. Or is it? Align the black arrow on the slide-chart to materials published between 1923 and 1963 and discover that works originally published in the U.S. between 1923 and 1977 without a copyright symbol are in the public domain! Memoirs of a Copper Miner was published in 1953 and does not have a copyright symbol. Let the digitizing begin!

This looks like a dandy little tool to have in your desk drawer and I plan to order one sometime soon.

My next question is how hard would it be to make a slick flash version of this that could live online and be updated as copyright rules change?

Image Credit: A cropped version of a photo from the District Dispatch blog post quoted above.
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Posted on 9th April 2008
Under: copyright, what if | 3 Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

3 Responses to “Copyright Slider: Quick Easy Access to Copyright Laws and Guidelines”

  1. Dan Cohen Says:

    For $5 less why not just print out the nice-looking, kept-up-to-date Cornell web page for this:

    Also note that it’s the “maybes” that are the killers, and no chart can help you there.

  2. Jeanne Says:


    Thanks for reminding me of that page! I especially love the footnotes. Not only do they provide pointers to sources for all the rules listed – but they also give another level of detail and hints for interpreting the rules. Take note 3 for example which reads:

    All terms of copyright run through the end of the calendar year in which they would otherwise expire, so a work enters the public domain on the first of the year following the expiration of its copyright term. For example, a book published on 15 March 1923 will enter the public domain on 1 January 2019, not 16 March 2018 (1923+95=2018).


  3. Online Interactive U.S. Copyright Slider - - spellbound by archival science and information technology in the digital age Says:

    […] when I posted about the Copyright Slider: Quick Easy Access to Copyright Laws and Guidelines? This was my last line in that post: My next question is how hard would it be to make a slick flash […]

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