The Internet Archive “Liberates” Books Published Between 1923 and 1941, and Will Put 10,000 Digitized Books Online

Here at Open Cul­ture, we can nev­er resist the chance to fea­ture books free to read and down­load online. Books can become free in a num­ber of dif­fer­ent ways, one of the most reli­able being rever­sion to the pub­lic domain after a cer­tain amount of time has passed since its pub­li­ca­tion — usu­al­ly a long time, with the result that the aver­age age of the books freely avail­able online skews quite old. Noth­ing wrong with old or even ancient read­ing mate­r­i­al, of course, but some­times one wish­es copy­right law did­n’t put quite such a delay on the process. The Inter­net Archive and its col­lab­o­ra­tors have recent­ly made progress in that depart­ment, find­ing a legal means of “lib­er­at­ing” books of a less dis­tant vin­tage than usu­al.

“The Inter­net Archive is now lever­ag­ing a lit­tle known, and per­haps nev­er used, pro­vi­sion of US copy­right law, Sec­tion 108h, which allows libraries to scan and make avail­able mate­ri­als pub­lished [from] 1923 to 1941 if they are not being active­ly sold,” writes the site’s founder Brew­ster Kahle.

Tulane Uni­ver­si­ty copy­right schol­ar Eliz­a­beth Townsend Gard and her stu­dents “helped bring the first scanned books of this era avail­able online in a col­lec­tion named for the author of the bill mak­ing this nec­es­sary: The Son­ny Bono Memo­r­i­al Col­lec­tion.” Yes, that Son­ny Sono, who after his music career (most mem­o­rably as half of Son­ny and Cher) served in the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 1994 until his death in 1998.

At the moment, the Son­ny Bono Memo­r­i­al Col­lec­tion offers such 94-to- 76-year-old pieces of read­ing mate­r­i­al as var­ied as André Mal­raux’s The Roy­al Way, Arnold Dres­den’s An Invi­ta­tion to Math­e­mat­ics, René Kraus’ Win­ston Churchill: A Biog­ra­phy, Colonel S.P. Meek’s Frog, the Horse that Knew No Mas­ter, and Don­ald Hen­der­son Clarke’s Impa­tient Vir­gin. Kahle assures us that “We will add anoth­er 10,000 books and oth­er works in the near future,” and reminds us that “if the Found­ing Fathers had their way, almost all works from the 20th cen­tu­ry would be pub­lic domain by now.” The inten­tions of the Found­ing Fathers may mat­ter to you or they may not, but if you’re an Open Cul­ture read­er, you can hard­ly quib­ble with the new avail­abil­i­ty of dozens of free books online — and the prospect of thou­sands more soon to come. Stay tuned and watch the col­lec­tion grow.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kin­dle & Oth­er Devices

2,000+ Archi­tec­ture & Art Books You Can Read Free at the Inter­net Archive

Down­load 200+ Free Mod­ern Art Books from the Guggen­heim Muse­um

Free: You Can Now Read Clas­sic Books by MIT Press on

British Library to Offer 65,000 Free eBooks

74 Free Banned Books (for Banned Books Week)

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.