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Mass Digitization Access and Use

UC’s mass digitized volumes are subject to restrictions due to copyright laws. Scanned volumes believed to be in copyright are only available for full-text search and search-within-the-book; Reading access is not permitted for volumes believed to be in copyright.

Currently, copyright restrictions also apply to the campus or library from which the digitized volume originated and is housed. UC’s scanned volumes are preserved in the HathiTrust repository, and UC (like other HathiTrust partners) has no special access to the scans of in-copyright volumes.

UC’s mass digitized volumes deemed to be out of copyright (in the public domain), uncopyrightable (such as U.S. federal government documents), or for which the rights holder has given explicit permission are made full view and may be read by everyone.

Reasons Digital Copies May Not Be Available for Access

The following are reasons why a digitized UC library book may not be accessed through HathiTrust or Google Books:

  • The book was published in the United States after 1928 and is assumed to be under copyright.
  • The book was published outside the United States after 1898 and is assumed to be under copyright.
  • Due to differing copyright laws, users from outside of the United States may not have access to view the volume.
  • The book may not be in copyright but has been closed for access due to privacy concerns.

HathiTrust has undergone many copyright review projects to determine the actual copyright status of books automatically assumed to be under copyright. However, copyright review of individual volumes is a time consuming process. While copyright reviews continue, there are still hundreds of thousands of volumes that have not yet been reviewed.

Sharing Digital Copies Across Institutions

UC Libraries are permitted to distribute all or any portion of public domain works contained in the UC Libraries’ digital copy to other research libraries for use by those libraries’ authorized students, faculty, and staff for research, scholarly, or academic purposes. However, for public domain volumes digitized by Google, Google requests that the images and OCR not be re-hosted, redistributed or used commercially. The images are provided for educational, scholarly, non-commercial purposes.

Accessing Closed Digital Volumes

You may not be able to get access to the UC digitized volume you need. But here are a few things to try:

  • Be sure and check HathiTrust, Google Books, and Internet Archive to see if the volume happens to be open on one of these services. Once in a while (albeit rarely) the volume may be open in one service but not another.
  • Check to see if the physical book is located in a library near you. The book may be available if you are able to walk into the library where it is housed. HathiTrust, Google Books, and WorldCat all have tools that allow you to locate volumes in a library closest to your location.
  • If you are affiliated with a college or university library within the United States, check with librarians there to help you get the book (or required pages) via interlibrary loan.
  • Contact the Mass Digitization Team at if any of these appear to be the case:
    • The book appears to be a U.S. government document.
    • The book was published or authored by the University of California.
    • The book was published from 1929-1977 and does not have a copyright notice in the front matter.

If any of the above are the case, there is a chance we may get the book opened for full view after a lengthy process.

On January 1, 2019 books published in the United States in 1923 passed into the public domain. This was the first public domain expansion in the United States in 20 years. If the U.S. congress does nothing to change the law, the public domain will continue to expand every January first until 2073.

Why was there no public domain expansion for 20 years? The Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 extended the copyright for works published in the United States before January 1, 1978 by 20 years, for a total of 95 years. This prevented works published in 1923 (which would have become public domain in 1999 if the Sonny Bono Extension had not been enacted) from passing into the public domain until 2019.

Works published after January 1, 1978 are copyrighted for the life of the author plus 70 years; or for works of corporate authorship 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever is earlier.

Now that the 20 year pause is over, every January 1st another year of works will enter the public domain. Barring any changes to copyright legislation, this will continue until the year 2073, at which time all copyright will be based on author death date plus 70 years.