As appealing as a nice, squishy couch and a tattered book may be, many of us simply don’t have the time to pore over library stacks and haul our favorite twelve picks back home. Libraries are aware of this.
Sure, our local library has been offering e-books all along, but those are mostly releases from the past few years. With the new project, an internet archive will be created from less-popular books from the last ninety years, including those that are out of print but still under copyright. The digital versions will be lent out and software will end access to the material once the lending period is over.
Why does this ring a bell? Because it sounds an awful lot like Google Books, the project begun in 2002 that has had extensive legal troubles due to copyright restrictions. Books’ original intention was to create an online master collection of every book ever published and allow users to search and view abbreviated text and images, then buy complete text. After being sued by a whole host of publishers and settling for $125 million, Google thought their legal trouble was over. But come April, the photographers were up in arms with their own lawsuit.
Defining and preserving copyright on the internet presents no end of difficulty. Hopefully OpenLibrary, providing books for free and for a limited amount of time, won’t face the legal troubles incurred by those who came before it.
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