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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.


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    Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    An answer to the Google Book Search conundrum?

    Frank Pasquale posted Conditions for the Digital Library of Alexandria on his blog a few days ago - it is a considered response to Google (and other) major digitisation projects.

    His thesis is that, given that there are several of these major projects dividing up the world's libraries between them, and given that the terms tend to grant to the library whose stock is being digitised access only to their own books ("Those restrictive terms foreshadow potential future restrictions on and tiering of their book search services. "), a solution to the ongoing copyright/fair dealing law cases might be to accept the fair dealing argument if - and only if - the terms grant access to the whole collection.
    Given the diciness of the fair use case for projects like Google Book Search, courts should condition the legality of such archiving of copyrighted content on universal access to the contents of the resulting database. Landmark cases like Sony v. Universal have set a precedent for taking such broad public interests into account in the course of copyright litigation. Given the importance of “commerciality” in the first of the four fair use factors, suspicion of tiered access could also be figured into that prong of the test. A more ambitious (if less likely) solution would require Congress to set such terms in a legislative settlement of the issue.
    The full post sets out the complete argument but all of which seems quite sensible to me. I expect there are still several years of legal debate to go, but this just might be a light at the end of the tunnel!

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