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Against Monopoly

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Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Google's digitizing books

Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, has an interesting op-ed piece in the Washington Post today on the arguments for universities supporting Google's digitizing all the world's books.
(linked here) Google would make a vast amount of printed material accessible to search and to limited use by students and scholars.

The article also notes that the universities have a conflict of interest in that they have their own publishing businesses. Faculties also have a conflict, to the extent that they write and publish texts. But it is in the overall public interest to make all printed material accessible.

It cites one helpful development: "Project Muse, begun in 1993 as a pioneering joint effort of the Johns Hopkins University Press and the university's Milton S. Eisenhower Library, makes available electronic "bundles" of current issues of journals to students and teachers in scattered locations. And JSTOR -- a coalition of journal publishers and libraries formed in the mid-1990s to create a reliable online collection of hundreds of older, little-used scholarly journals -- has brought these specialized works back into common use."

I wonder if there is room here for two kinds of copyright? One would protect the large-sale books, their authors and publishers. The other with small print runs would allow full access to digitized versions, including the right to download, not simply the right to limited search and quotation. The notion here is to protect authors who write to live, but prevent someone appropriating the uncopyrighted for personal profit. I think we need a good lawyer.


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