The Internet Archive has announced the Sonny Bono Memorial Collection of books. The collection was created utilizing a relatively obscure provision of copy right law, Section 108h, which allows libraries to make available works published between 1923 and 1941 if they meet certain criteria. As long as the books are not currently being sold , libraries can scan the books and make them available.
The collection’s name, the Sonny Bono Memorial Collection, refers to the Copyright Term Extension Act sponsored by Rep. Sonny Bono.
According to the Internet archive, the hope is that other libraries will follow their lead in creating what they refer to as “Last Twenty Collections”, so-called because the law allows libraries to make available books which are in the last 20 years of their copyright. The Internet Archive intends to add another 10,000 books to this collection in the near future.
The project helps to address the serious issue of the shrinking number of works freely available in the public domain. You can read more about the history of this project here at the Internet Archive blog.