This article, from earlier this week in the San Jose Mercury News, deserves a wider audience:
Thanks be to my OCLC Research colleague Ricky Erway for pointing it out to me.
The Open Content Alliance was meeting in San Francisco earlier this week when Google’s settlement with authors and publishers was announced. As you’ve no doubt heard by now — because of the settlement, in the foreseeable future libraries will be able to buy subscriptions from Google so that their patrons can view (on special terminals) the full content of books digitized by Google, with authors and publishers sharing in the proceeds.
Breakout groups at the OCA meeting spent several hours after the announcement exploring an alternate vision. How can libraries freely offer up temporary digital versions of out-of-print but in-copyright books, to any user anywhere, with the digital surrogate treated in every way possible as if it were an interlibrary loan?
How could this be done from a technical standpoint?
What sorts of agreements, if any, would have to be in place with publishers and authors? Or would such “lending” of “temporary” digital copies be covered under fair use?
What sorts of limitations and “due diligence” would be required by libraries to protect themselves from charges of copyright infringement?
Would making the digital process mirror as much as possible the process with a physical book be enough to protect the digitizing/lending library? For instance, holding the physical copy aside until the “temporary” digital copy expires?
Are there some sensible best practices that a group of libraries could come up with and test?
I’m thinking yes…
Dennis is a program officer for OCLC Research, concentrating on studies and activities involving the sharing of collections.