Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Copyright , the Digital Library, and More

On March 22, 2011, Google’s ambitious plan to create a universal digital library consisting of every book ever published was derailed when Judge Denny Chin of the US Second District Court in Manhattan rejected the Amended Settlement Agreement which had been hammered out with groups representing authors and publishers. This project which is widely supported within Google is integral to their corporate mission that includes a charge to organize all of the world’s information. Judge Chin citing antitrust, copyright, and other concerns ruled that the settlement was too broad and essentially granted Google a monopoly.

On March 23, 2011, Robert Darnton published an opinion article in the New York Times calling for “a Digital Library Better Than Google’s”—a noncommercial digital public library. Subsequently, on April 3, 2011, the New York Times published an article that discusses the ruling, the ruling’s implications for creating a digital public library, and plans achieving that goal. Whether the Google project will eventually succeed or whether it will be superseded by a noncommercial digital public library such as the proposed Digital Public Library of America, or whether another solution will emerge remains to be seen.

This recent development reminds me of the ongoing copyright and ownership issues pertaining to digital images. These thorny issues swirl around the right to publish and to use digital images in untold ways including in education and as the basis for the creation of new works. We are fortunate to have access to many useful and reputable sites to help navigate these concerns. A particularly useful and interesting site which includes historical as well as current links has been newly updated by Christine L. Sundt. You might want to check it out.

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