Yahoo jumps on the library bandwagon

Yahoo is getting into the book digitizing business, albeit on a slightly less-ambitious scale than the currently stalled Google Library project. The Open Content Alliance, spearheaded by Yahoo and including HP, Adobe, the Internet Archive, and a couple of universities, will attempt to digitize not only books, but audio, video, and scholarly papers. HP will be providing the scanning hardware, Adobe is chipping in Acrobat and associated licenses, while the Internet Archive will host the material.

One major difference between the Open Content Alliance and Google’s project is the Open Content Alliance’s focus on material in the public domain. In addition, the Open Content Alliance will scan copyrighted material for the project, but only with the approval of the copyright holder.


“It is a wonderful idea. It does all the good things that the Google project was represented as doing, but it respects the copyright,” said Richard Hull, executive director of the [Text and Academic Authors Association].

That approach differs markedly from Google’s opt-out policy, under which copyright holders have until November 1, 2005 to notify the company that they do not want their works included in the index. That has been a major bone of contention and has been cited in both lawsuits filed against the search giant.

The University of California system and University of Toronto will be providing much of the content for the project, and the University of California Press will likely allow much, if not all, of its content to be reproduced by the Open Content Alliance. In addition, the Alliance is soliciting the participation of other libraries and institutions in the Alliance.

Given its more publisher-friendly approach to copyrighted materials, the Open Content Alliance may have a better chance at success than the Google Library. Although Google’s project arguably falls under the category of Fair Use and will not allow searchers to access more than a few lines of text from a work, it may end up being tied up in the legal system for some time. With the backing of some of the groups opposed to the Google Library project, the Open Content Alliance should experience smooth sailing.


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