One of the underlying obstacles to reproducing older books is that there's no central place to look for information about what is protected by copyright and what may have passed into the public domain. Responding to this need, OCLC recently introduced a new system for tracking various copyright details for published books. The new service, still in beta, is called the WorldCat Copyright Evidence Registry (CER). It could be a very valuable resource for recording and sharing copyright status information.
Roger V. Skalbeck, The Power of Collaboration: WorldCat's Copyright Evidence Registry, AALL Spectrum, April 2009, at 14-15, 32-33.