Assisting living authors in opening access to their in-copyright works: a report from Iceland

Abstract: This article reports on a project, spanning the years 2013 to 2015, that assisted living Icelandic authors in opening access to out-of-print books that they wished to make publicly available. While this effort was small in scale, it sheds light on the complexities of releasing still-in-copyright works by living authors under a Creative Commons license. The project worked primarily with books that had been digitized by Google and included in HathiTrust’s collections. The project showed that Icelandic authors of older scholarly works were generally very interested in releasing them to the public at no charge by changing their rights status in HathiTrust. Meanwhile, authors who wished to release works that had not already been scanned were sometimes frustrated in their efforts to do so. The article concludes with some reflections on the benefits and drawbacks of author-by-author rights clearance, as compared to other ways of increasing the accessibility of out-of-print titles