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60,000 more books, movies, art now free to use

This month, works published in the United States in 1927 entered the public domain as their copyright expired. 

When something is still under copyright, you must receive permission to use it or obtain a license. IU Libraries pays licensing fees for access to copyrighted materials for IU students, faculty and staff on the Bloomington campus, or purchases physical copies to loan. 

Creative works that were never copyrighted — and U.S. government documents, which are public domain by law — are also in this sphere of free and shareable to all. 

One vital use of public domain is the movement toward Open Education Resources. Like other academic university libraries, IU Libraries is taking a leadership role in making educational materials and resources more affordable for college students. To that end, open education librarian Sarah Hare and her team collaborate with instructors to create the best options for their classrooms.

Material in the public domain due to an expiring copyright is free for both the instructor and students, and can add immensely to course content when digitally published through the HathiTrust Digital Library.  The ability for unlimited simultaneous user access creates many new opportunities for instructors.  

HathiTrust was created in 2008 as an initiative of the Big Ten Academic Alliance, formerly known as the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, and the University of California system. The nonprofit’s goal was to create a repository from the combined digital collections of its community. Currently, the repository contains over 17 million volumes and is the largest digitized collection managed by research libraries in the world. IU Libraries remains a founding partner. 

Ryan Dubnicek, digital humanities specialist at the HathiTrust Research Center, recently visited IU Libraries. He noted that 40% of HathiTrust’s materials are in the public domain, making it a vital tool for instructors seeking digital access to the new public domain items.

Access the 60,000 titles in the HathiTrust 1927 collection to get started.