Participating in Copyright Projects

Copyright Review Program

2017/18 annual call for participation

Nearly 50 people have contacted us during the call for participation to indicate an interest in volunteering. What an amazing response! For more information about the projects please contact Kristina Eden,

We are seeking volunteers for two well established and productive review projects. If you hope to volunteer but aren't able to make a minimum 6 hours/week required for US Monographs please consider volunteering for State Government Documents which due to being a simpler process is perfect for a 3 hours/week commitment.

  • US State Government Documents 1923-1977
    • 3-6 hrs/week, 1 calendar year commitment
    • Training cohort begins October 10, 2017
  • US Monographs 1923-1963
    • 6-10 hrs/week, 1 calendar year commitment
    • Training cohort begins mid-January, 2018

Work time is adjustable according to the volunteer's schedule and seasonal swings. However, consistency each week is preferred. Training will be provided by HathiTrust staff. No prior knowledge of copyright is necessary and all work is done remotely. Due to the effort required to train reviewers, we ask that members make at least a one-year commitment for their involvement.


How to participate

The 2017-2018 call for participation will include a response form which interested libraries or individuals should fill out. There are two available projects: U.S. State Government Documents 1923-1977 and U.S. Monographs 1923-1963. For those wishing to work on the U.S. State Government Documents 1923-1977 we will need staffing details sooner as we anticipate beginning training on October 10, 2017. Volunteers for U.S. Monographs 1923-1963 have until December 1, 2017 to respond for an anticipated training start date in mid-January.

Many HathiTrust members, especially those who have recently joined, may be less familiar with how the program operates and the specifics of what participation entails. If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity, we will be holding a webcast on Wednesday, September 25, 2017 from 3:00-4:30 PM EDT. We will review how the copyright review process works, discuss reviewer tasks, and answer your questions. 


Copyright Reviewer Job Description

The expectations and job description for reviewers investigating the copyright status of digitized works in HathiTrust are listed below.  Reviewers are designated by their institution to participate for a percentage of their regular work time.  

A copyright reviewer performs the following:

  • Scans through front matter to verify the book matches the project’s legal scope, such as falling within a date range and place of publication

  • Performs a comprehensive search of the Stanford Copyright Renewal Database

  • Looks through the book’s front and back matter for credits, permissions, or acknowledgements which may indicate the presence of other copyrighted content

  • Selects a rights code that matches the correct copyright status of the work

Each book is assessed by two copyright reviewers, working independently, who must agree on the book’s copyright status. Wherever legally possible, books identified as public domain are made accessible in HathiTrust. It is the responsibility of a reviewer to be diligent in his or her assessment and to follow the procedural guidelines set out in the decision tree and project wiki. It is essential that the reviewer pay close attention to detail and be comfortable asking questions in an unknown situation. A reviewer is responsible for following basic security protocol when given special access to potentially in-copyright book scans, and is forbidden from using special access for purposes other than copyright review. A reviewer may work more or less in any given week provided the overall effort accomplishes the total commitment and does not sustain inactivity for longer than 8 weeks.

Skills required: Fluent with computers and typing; able to read and follow instructions; consistent attention to detail; database searching such as wildcard and truncation; able to apply independent judgment in variable situations; basic conceptual understanding of bibliographic records and frontmatter.

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