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News Release — February 17, 2004

New Version of the WATCH (Writers, Artists and Their Copyright Holders) File

The University of Texas at Austin's Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center announces a new version of the WATCH (Writers, Artists and Their Copyright Holders) File, an online database containing primarily the names and addresses of copyright holders or contact persons for authors and artists whose archives are housed, in whole or in part, in libraries and archives in North America and the United Kingdom.

To keep up with changing technologies and the growth of the site, a new Microsoft Access Web site was developed. The new functional WATCH File is able to handle immense data additions as well as an increased number of searches. The WATCH File averages 15,000 searches a month. Some of the most requested searches are for copyright holders of authors James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, W.B. Yeats and Virginia Woolf.

The objective of the WATCH File is to provide information to scholars and researchers about whom to contact for permission to publish text and images that have copyright protection. Free to use, the online site for the file is accessible via the Ransom Center's website.

A joint endeavor of the Ransom Center and the University of Reading, England, the initial WATCH file was set up in 1994. WATCH was probably the first Anglo-American collaboration in the humanities to make use of the Internet.

"Prior to the creation of WATCH, the absence of any directory or register of the holders of copyright in works by English-language authors had long been a source of concern for researchers and scholars working with primary source material," said Cathy Henderson, the inaugural United States Compiler. "Our goal in creating WATCH was to ease the often arduous process of locating copyright holders."

The WATCH File allows searches by both first and last names of authors and artists. It also allows partial string searches, but does not cross-reference automatically. A "Search Other Name Forms" link will search for pseudonyms and alternate spellings. The site also includes obituary information, links to other copyright resources, and tips for locating United States and United Kingdom copyright holders not found in WATCH.

"The WATCH File continues to be a great resource for locating copyright holders, including contacts for unpublished materials," said Tara Wenger, current United States Compiler. "While the file continues to constantly grow and be updated, we also hope that it will become more global in the future."

A reception to celebrate the new version of WATCH will be held at 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 17 in the Tom Lea Room of the Ransom Center. Henderson, Wenger, and David Sutton, United Kingdom compiler, will speak on the past, present and future of the WATCH initiative.

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