Question about public domain works in Google Books with a Harvard library example (UNCLASSIFIED)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 2 23:57:18 UTC 2011

Thanks to Ben, Bill, Victor, and Ken for very informative responses.

One confusing aspect of this question, to me, is the radically
restricted access allowed for a work published in 1912. No snippets
are shown and no page numbers are given for The Fra, Volume 9. I
thought access was restricted in this way only when a copyright holder
made a request to restrict access.

Although this thread was started with a somewhat narrow question about
the access that has been granted by GB to one particular book I hope
that the discussion illuminates the situation for other books

The bibliographic information provided by GB for The Fra Volume 9
indicates the volume was scanned four years ago in 2007. Many public
domain works that were scanned in later years have already been
cleared and are fully accessible.

Title: The Fra, Volume 9
Editors: Elbert Hubbard, Felix Shay
Publisher: E. Hubbard, 1912
Original from: Harvard University
Digitized: Mar 19, 2007

Several volumes of The Fra published before and after Volume 9 are
fully accessible through GB and HathiTrust. Here Is a list of volumes
at HathiTrust:

Full view v. 02 (inc.) (1909) vol. 2, no. 5 (original from University
of Illinois)
Full view v. 03 (inc.) (1909) (original from Princeton University)
Full view v. 04 (inc.) (1909 - 1910) (original from Princeton University)
Full view v. 10 (inc.) (1912 - 1913) (original from Princeton University)
Full view v. 11 (1913) (original from Princeton University)
Full view v. 12 - 13 (inc.) (1913 - 1914) (original from Princeton University)
Full view v. 14 (1914 - 1915) (original from Princeton University)
Full view v. 17 (inc.) (1916) (original from Princeton University)

It is always possible that an oversight has been made or a glitch in
the database inadvertently blocked access.

On Wed, Nov 2, 2011 at 6:20 PM, Ken Hirsch <kenhirsch at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Ken Hirsch <kenhirsch at FTML.NET>
> Subject:      Re: Question about public domain works in Google Books with a
>              Harvard library example (UNCLASSIFIED)
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Tue, Nov 1, 2011 at 7:42 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at>wrote:
>> I know he was an engineer and not a lawyer, but he seems to have got the
>> government documents issue wrong. Government documents are not in the
>> public domain, but they must be made available to the public (not quite
>> the same thing, as it turns out). The question is not "who is the author
>> and who owns the copyright?" but "Does 'available to the public' include
>> reproduction by third parties?". The answer generally seems to be "yes",
>> but it's not a clear-cut issue.
> For works "prepared by an officer or employee of the U.S.
> government<>
> as
> part of that person's official duties", there is no copyright protection in
> the United States. That is a specific part of the copyright statute.
> There are court rulings that deal with other government documents, though.
> Also, someone else in this conversation said "Grrr" in relation to Disney,
> but in that particular case, they were the side arguing for the public
> domain. I don't mean to defend them in general, though.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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