History of the Card Catalog

Together, the Copyright Card Catalog and the Catalog of Copyright Entries (CCE) provide an index to copyright registrations and records in the United States from 1870 to 1977. The physical Copyright Card Catalog contains approximately 41.5 million card pages. A large part of the literary, musical, artistic, and scientific production of the United States and of foreign countries is recorded in these files. Because of changes in the techniques of recording copyright registrations over the years, the Copyright Office has divided these records into several chronological periods or indexes.

About the Digitization Process

The cards in the Copyright Card Catalog were scanned into high-resolution TIFF images for archival purposes. These TIFF images were then converted into smaller, presentation copy images in the JPEG format to create the online images for the VCC. In addition, optical character recognition (OCR) and intelligent character recognition (ICR) technology were used to capture metadata from the images of the typed and handwritten text into raw datasets. The raw datasets have been added to the VCC to enable enhanced browse capabilities. In the future, the raw datasets will be reviewed for errors and corrected to the extent practical given the large volume of datasets.

The Virtual Card Catalog Complete Collection of Digitized Cards

This third release Proof of Concept Virtual Card Catalog is the final step in the Proof of Concept series toward providing more robust online browse capabilities of the Copyright Card Catalog given the raw OCR data currently available. The purpose of this proof of concept is to confirm the validity of a Virtual Card Catalog by assessing if more features, and enhanced search capabilities through OCR data perfection will provide value to researchers, copyright owners, and the public. The U.S. Copyright Office welcomes your input and feedback on the VCC.


This Proof of Concept is a demonstration of a potential Virtual Card Catalog to validate its feasibility and to verify that the concept has a practical potential use for the public. The images are presented in this virtual card catalog in the exact filing order as found in the physical card catalog and may contain filing errors and corrupt images. This Proof of Concept 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, please refer to Circular 22 “How to Investigate the Copyright Status of a Work.” If you would like to request removal of personal information from the Virtual Card Catalog please refer to Circular 18 “Privacy: Copyright Public Records.”