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The Cyber Hymnal's picture

I have a suggestion that will greatly help people looking for public domain material. As you are probably aware, under current U.S. law (or our understanding of it) copyrights expire 95 years after origination. That means that anything published in 1922 or earlier is in now the public domain. But…it also means that material first copyrighted in 1923 will enter the public domain in 2018 (or perhaps 2019?). Here's what I request the Hymnary implement before 2018:

Add the ability to search for lyrics or music first published/copyrighted in a specified year. Then we could ask questions like: "Show me everything first published in 1923." The search results would show everything that just went into the public domain and for the first time is available for free use.

Note: The search should not return material first published before the specified year. That would return thousands of results, obviously not the intended outcome.


I would echo this timely request. We are entering a new era. Perhaps an option for searching by range of years will be useful going forward.

There are a couple of ways to search hymns and hymnals for specific years or a range of years using the advanced search boxes on the left side of our page. Under "Add a field" there is a search for "Year Written" under the People category. This is often the date the text was first published. There is also a search by "Publication Date" under the Hymnal category. We do not have an available search for copyright date, however our programmers are able to find copyrights for specific dates.

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