News Release — May 29, 2007
Database of Literary Copyright Information Available To Researchers
The University of Texas at Austin's Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center and the Reading University Library have created Firms Out of Business (FOB), an online database containing the names and addresses of copyright holders or contact persons for out-of-business printing and publishing firms, magazines, literary agencies and similar organizations that have archives housed in libraries and archives in North America and the United Kingdom.
FOB is a companion project to the Writers, Artists and Their Copyright Holders (WATCH), an online database containing the names and addresses of copyright holders or contact persons for authors and artists.
The objective of both projects is to provide information to scholars and researchers about whom to contact for permission to publish text and images that have copyright protection.
"The long-standing partnership between the Ransom Center and the University of Reading has already produced the WATCH Web site, which has become a worldwide standard reference tool," said co-creator David Sutton, of the University of Reading in Whiteknights, United Kingdom. "I hope that the FOB project will eventually achieve the same status. I am sure that FOB will be welcomed by researchers, biographers, historians of the book, librarians and editors on both sides of the Atlantic."
FOB aims to record information about printing and publishing firms, magazines, literary agencies and similar organizations that are no longer in existence. Where possible, the entries in FOB identify successor organizations that might own any surviving rights.
"It has always been particularly difficult for writers, editors and publishers to locate the rights holders for little magazines and book publishers that have vanished, leaving behind so-called orphaned works," said Ransom Center Librarian Richard Workman. "FOB will be a means of identifying the rightful copyright owners of these works, thus allowing them to be republished or adapted."
FOB entries are researched from standard reference books, university library and archival catalogs and discussions with library colleagues and other experts in the field. The entries are designed as factual summaries, not as short company histories.
Two categories are represented in FOB. The first category includes firms that went out of existence long ago and no longer hold publishing rights.
The other category comprises firms that have gone out of business more recently, and directs inquirers who may have an interest in rights that could belong to that firm or its successor.
Compilers welcome submissions of additional information from users of the FOB and WATCH Web sites and from others with knowledge in literary and publishing history.