Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. This institution calls for notice because of its importance in connection with the copyright system, as well as because it is the great library of the United States government. Established at Washington in 1800, this library has survived two conflagrations, and has risen, in 1882, to 450,000 volumes, besides about 200,000 pamphlets. Its primary uses being for the national legislature, it has been rendered very complete in jurisprudence, political and economic science, and history; and in what are known as Americana it has by far the largest collection in the country. Its 10,000 bound volumes of newspapers represent more than a century of journalism in Europe and America. The supreme court of the United States, the heads of departments and bureaus, and the foreign diplomatic corps resident in Washington draw upon its stores; and while not a library of general circulation, it is freely open to the public use.
—The librarian of congress is made by law the keeper of all copyright records, and the custodian of all publications deposited with the government in evidence of copyright. The process of obtaining copyright is very simple; the law requires a printed copy of the title of the work before publication, with a fee of fifty cents for record, and fifty cents for certificate of record, followed, within ten days after publication, by two copies of the work, which may be sent free by mail. Prior to 1870 the records of copyright were kept by the clerks of the United States district courts in fifty different places in the states, with the somewhat confusing result that there was no central office of record, and no ready means of answering questions as to literary property. Since the transfer of the entire registry and records to Washington, the status of every publication can be traced as to copyright title. Moreover the deposit of copies in pursuance of copyright is made vastly more complete, and authors and publishers are assured of finding nearly every publication protected by copyright in this national repository. A separate fire-proof library building is soon to be erected, the great collections of literature and science, including the copyright department, having long overflowed the limited space within the capitol.
—Copyright in the United States runs to any citizen or resident therein, for the term of twenty-eight years from date of entry; and may be renewed for fourteen years longer by the author, or by his widow or children, making forty-two years in all. The annual number of copyright entries in the office of the librarian of congress considerably exceeds 20,000.
A. R. SPOFFORD.
Return to top