Office launches beta Web site for copyright queries

Office launches beta Web site for copyright queries

BY PATRICIA DAUKANTAS | GCN STAFF

The Library of Congress’ Copyright Office has launched a beta Web version of its copyright search function.

At www.loc.gov/copyright/search, a Perl script translates the search queries into mainframe commands. But George Thuronyi, a webmaster for the Copyright Office, called it “a temporary Band-Aid, a bridge between the old system and the new.”

Like the Library of Congress Information System, LOCIS, the Web search engine lets visitors search three databases: monographs, serials and copyright ownership documents.

The mainframe-based LOCIS went online in 1973 and became accessible from outside in 1978. “It was state-of-the-art at the time,” Thuronyi said.

Users want it easy

A survey last February revealed that 93 percent of LOCIS users are first-time or occasional visitors, and they wanted something easier than LOCIS’ Telnet and IBM TN3270 text interfaces.

Either people are forgetting how to use Telnet, or they are barred from using it because it’s a “wonderful back door for hackers,” Thuronyi said. “People want to click, and there’s no place to click” in a text interface.

The Perl script sends Telnet commands behind the scenes and translates mainframe results for the Web. Thuronyi said he modified some code that a library colleague had written several years ago for LOCIS.

The beta search site also can link visitors to LOCIS through Telnet or TN3270 terminal emulation interfaces.

Link to come soon

Eventually the Copyright Office will move its records to a new platform, which has yet to be specified, Thuronyi said.

The new search site isn’t yet linked to the Copyright Office’s home page, at www.loc.gov/copyright, but it has been announced to about 4,000 subscribers in an e-mail newsletter, Thuronyi said.

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