Public Guardian Key to Preserving Nation’s Literary Heritage

The Open Book Alliance has been steadfast in its belief that the digitization of books is a seismic change that will help reduce the literary divide in our nation and our world, and open up new ways to more efficiently and thoroughly conduct research.

However, it is critical that the commercialization of books does not trump the benefits of their digitization.  The current Google Book Settlement does just that.

While much debate over the past nine months has focused on the flaws of the Google Books Settlement, it is time that new solutions are proposed.  Amending a flawed settlement is not an answer.  As a result, the Open Book Alliance has drafted the key parameters of a proposed solution and today sent it to leaders in the U.S. Congress and a broad audience of digital book advocates and stakeholders.

The letter clearly outlines the way to fully maximize the potential of the mass digitization of books:

  • Open Process: Only an open and deliberative conversation in Congress will appropriately weigh the concerns of all stakeholders and create bright-line laws that apply equally to all consumers, companies and stakeholders.
  • Public Guardian: To ensure the widest participation by content holders and greatest public benefit, the digital book database should be entrusted to a neutral, civic, not-for-profit organization. Respected librarians, like Harvard’s Robert Darnton, have suggested a public guardian that is a not for profit or public sector library, such as the Library of Congress.  In a similar vein, the governments of France and the Netherlands have entrusted public institutions with the administration of digital libraries.
  • Public Interest: Any successful digitization effort must not be exclusive to a single for-profit company as a result of legal arrangements delivering unfair monopoly.   It also must uphold the rights of authors and copyright.

It is time to start a new inclusive process that engages the broad audience of advocates sharing a passion for the digitization of books, promoting open competition and access to digital books for the widest number of people.

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2 Responses for "Public Guardian Key to Preserving Nation’s Literary Heritage"

  1. Michael J. Borges January 19th, 2010 at 7:38 pm #1

    The New York Library Association is greatly pleased that our suggestion to utilize the efforts of a non-profit public guardian, like the Library of Congress, to administer a digital library that would respect the rights of both authors and library patrons, is being seen as a viable alternative to a private monopoly run by Google

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The mass digitization of books promises to bring tremendous value to consumers, libraries, scholars, and students. The Open Book Alliance will work to advance and protect this promise. And, by...


What Experts Are Saying About the Settlement…

Important Dates

December 14, 2009
Notice begins

January 28, 2010
Deadline for authors to opt out of the settlement

January 28, 2010
Deadline to file objections and/or amicus briefs

February 4, 2010
Deadline to file notice of intent to appear at Fairness Hearing

February 4, 2010
DOJ response

February 11, 2010
Plaintiffs move for final approval

February 18, 2010
Final Fairness Hearing

March 31, 2011
Deadline to claim Books and Inserts