CRMS-World: An IMLS National Leadership Grant

CRMS-WORLD (December 2011- November 2014)

In the fall of 2011, the University of Michigan Library received a National Leadership Grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Studies (IMLS). The grant runs from December 2011 to November 2014 and is awarded for (1) the development and deployment of the CRMS-World system, and (2) for the continued performance of the Copyright Review Management System (CRMS) originally funded by IMLS (2008-2011).

Nearly 500,000 books were published in the United States between 1923 and 1963. Many of these titles are in the public domain, but determining the copyright status of individual books is challenging. If a work is not in the public domain, it cannot be made openly accessible online. The University of Michigan Library will continue the work of investigating and recording reliable determinations of the copyright status of more than 117,000 U.S. titles published in 1923–1963 as initiated in the first CRMS grant. Thus far more than half of these titles reviewed by CRMS have been determined to be public domain and are now available online. 

With this new IMLS award, the University of Michigan Library and its partners will continue to make copyright determinations for U.S. titles and in addition will make reliable copyright status determinations for foreign-published titles, which constitute a significant portion of the scholarly works being digitized by projects such as HathiTrust. This project attracted the support of numerous partner libraries that will work together to develop and execute reliable processes for making copyright determinations.  At its core, this is a community-wide effort.  As such, we will seek participation from libraries globally to assist with the copyright determination processes and take constructive advantage of the professional desire of librarians everywhere for clarity regarding copyright status.

The primary outcomes of this project will be copyright information for books in HathiTrust and increased public access to the world's literary, scholarly, and scientific heritage as public domain books are identified and made available. For those books subject to copyright, our improved knowledge of the copyright status will help librarians and readers make reasoned choices about access and use. By developing legal, administrative, and technical tools to identify books in the public domain, the University of Michigan and its partners will improve access to public domain books -- many of which are out of print and otherwise unavailable -- and tackle a difficult challenge for libraries worldwide that will be able to make better use of their collections to serve the public.


In 2008, the University of Michigan Library was awarded a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to create a Copyright Review Management System (CRMS). The purpose of the project was to develop a process to undertake copyright status determinations of books published in the United States from 1923 to 1963 and held in the HathiTrust Digital Library and to help create a point of collaboration with other institutions. Hundreds of thousands of books were published in the United States between 1923 and 1963, and many of these are likely to be in the public domain.  However, determining which books are in the public domain requires a manual check for each title to learn more about the copyright status and make a determination.  Based on the success of that project, this new National Leadership Grant allows us to continue our work in this area and expand the copyright review process to international works.

In CRMS-World, the University of Michigan and our partners will develop copyright determination processes for non-US works, beginning with English-language books published in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Spain.  In addition, the Library will  prepare a web-based training process and interface making possible a modified crowd sourcing approach to gathering the information needed for copyright determinations. Further, we will continue to investigate the copyright status of books held in the HathiTrust Digital Library using the Copyright Review Management System.  Books identified as being in the public domain will be made fully available online through HathiTrust as part of its mission to preserve and share the record of human knowledge.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.


Page maintained by Melissa Levine
Last modified: 03/26/2013