Virtual Card Catalog | U.S. Copyright Office
Virtual Card Catalog | U.S. Copyright Office

Frequently Asked Questions about VCC

This Proof of Concept (PoC) is a demonstration of the feasibility of the Virtual Card Catalog (VCC) concept. The PoC’s purpose is to verify that the concept of a VCC has potential as a production application as well as to identify any changes that should be implemented to make it worthwhile for public use. This PoC is not a final version of the planned VCC. The purpose is to validate the VCC’s feasibility and to verify its potential use for the public. The images are presented in a similar filing order as found in the physical card catalog and may contain filing errors and corrupt images. In addition, the new enhanced browse functionality queries raw OCR data, which may contain errors.

We are working to identify technical issues to update and improve the overall functionality. Your feedback will provide input into improving the VCC. This PoC does not replace or supersede existing search practices established by the United States Copyright Office, and the results should not be relied on for legal matters. For information on searching Copyright Records, refer to the circular 22 “How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work.” For information regarding the removal of personal information from the Virtual Card Catalog, please refer to the Circular 18 “Privacy: Copyright Public Records.”

The Copyright Card Catalog is the most complete and accurate collection of copyright records of ownership in the world. The cards are indexes to the actual copyright registrations and records in the U.S. Copyright Office from 1870 to 1977. The virtual card catalog contains images of card drawers and card images that are digitized versions of the physical copies found in the physical card catalog. The Proof of Concept Virtual Card Catalog contains the records from 1955 to 1977.

The current VCC is a PoC model developed to gather input from the public on the value of hosting the U.S. Copyright Card Catalog online. The VCC contains limited information from the U.S. Copyright Card Catalog. At this point, the VCC does not provide a complete set of card records to allow you to conduct a copyright ownership search. Please see Circular 22 “How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work.” on how to investigate the copyright status of a work.

An index is an alphabetical list of names and titles that point to a record during a specific time period. The indexes or segments within the Card Catalog contain a chronological range of years. For example, within the Card Catalog, there are six registration indexes identified by a specific range of years and includes the drawers and cards.

A virtual card catalog drawer in the VCC contains images of the physical cards located in the Copyright Office’s Public Records Reading Room (CPRRR). A virtual drawer contains images of cards that correspond to the alphabetical range as shown on the front of the drawer. The cards within the drawer are divided into alphabetical groups with personal names followed by corporate names and titles.

A virtual catalog card image is an exact replica of the physical card from the Card Catalog. The card image contains bibliographic information about a copyrighted work such as the name of the author and copyright claimant, title, registration number, and date of publication or registration.

Bulk downloads of VCC images are not currently available. The Copyright Office is exploring bulk downloading options and whether there will be a fee associated with the service. Limited downloads can be done from each card drawer and are limited to one card at a time.

No, VCC contains roughly 99 percent of the images for the 1955–1977 time period. There are a few missing drawers, and images will continue to be added to the VCC. The images are identified by the index (e.g., 1971—1977), the drawer name (e.g., OHIO A), and a card ID (e.g., 0748). If there is more than one page to a card, a character follows the number (e.g., 0748a). The images are displayed in sets of pages. The page-number range displayed as part of the page results represents the number of images in the page, not the card ID.

The VCC incorporates two sets of metadata. The first set is associated with the name of the drawer and the Card ID number. The Drawer Name is the exact name as it appears on the physical drawer. The Card ID is the sequence of the card within the drawer, including any misfiled cards. Thus, all Card IDs for any drawer start with 0001. Where there are multiple pages to a card set, the additional images include a character on the end of the ID. For example, a card set that contains two pages (front and back) would be labeled 0001a and 0001b.

In addition, data capture has been performed on the card images resulting in raw datasets. These datasets represent the content on the card image. While the metadata for the drawers and images is nearly 100 percent accurate, the raw data sets are roughly 90 percent accurate for the typed content. Card content that is mostly handwritten, such as with serials, was incompatible with the data capture technology used and contains the most errors.

On the CARD CATALOG page, there are two independent sets of numbers associated with the card images. The Card ID, which starts with 0001 through the last card in the drawer, is assigned to the card image. Multi-page card sets have alpha characters on the end (e.g. 0001a, 0001b, 0001c) to identify the set.

In addition, each card image has a count assigned to it based upon its location within the results. Thus, while the Card ID starts with 0001 in every drawer, filtered results that cover multiple drawers will not restart with each new drawer.

Titles and names do not qualify for copyright protection. For more information on what is not protected by copyright, see Circular 33 “Works Not Protected by Copyright..”

Punctuation such as exclamations(!), Question marks(?), periods(.), and apostrophes(‘) are ignored by the SOLR search engine that performs the queries on the card content. These characters should be omitted from the filter criteria.

The primary purpose of the VCC is to solicit feedback from the public. The Office encourages visitors to take the 2-minute survey. Upon completion of a query and review of images, and after closing the Card Viewer page, a prompt will appear ask you if you want to take the survey now, later, or not at all. If you choose later, you will be prompted every 10 minutes until you take the survey or choose no.

The history of actions during filtering, browsing, viewing, and other actions are captured within the Notifications window. This window is available by clicking on the bell icon on the menu bar. As you progress through the VCC, with each notification, the number aligned with the bell icon is adjusted. The notifications may be copied from the window and placed into another file or document (e.g., email, text documents, etc.)



This Proof of Concept is not a final version of the planned Virtual Card Catalog (VCC). The purpose of the VCC Proof of Concept is to test if this system can be used for online public access to the physical Copyright Card Catalog. The images appear in roughly the same filing order as the physical cards, but filing errors and corrupt images may cause some images to be in the wrong place. Enhanced browse capabilities are limited because data capture technology is not entirely accurate. We are working to update and improve overall functionality. Your feedback is essential to improving the system. This Proof of Concept does not replace or supersede existing search practices established by the U.S. Copyright Office. Any results obtained during the course of your enhanced browse are not reliable for legal matters. For information regarding searching copyright records, please refer to Circular 22 “How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work.” For information regarding the removal of personal information from the Virtual Card Catalog, please refer to the Circular 18 “Privacy: Copyright Public Records.”