A New York Times article discusses the Open Content Alliance, an initiative to put books online for everyone's consumption regardless of affiliation.
This is in stark contrast to restrictions put in place by both Google and Microsoft who also want to scan library books and make them available online but by limiting the libraries from sharing the books with other commercial search services.
Libraries that agree to work with Google must agree to a set of terms, which include making the material unavailable to other commercial search services. Microsoft places a similar restriction on the books it converts to electronic form. The Open Content Alliance, by contrast, is making the material available to any search service.
WebmasterWorld members are cheering for the libraries.
I think this is great news, and in the spirit of libraries. A commercial business person may walk into any library and browse any book. Why should Big-G or M$ get to convert such a freedom of information into their own revenue stream?
True. An additional kudos goes to the libraries because they have to actually pay the Open Content Alliance to have their books scanned; Google/Microsoft don't impose fees. Still, the libraries are doing the right thing, according to forum members.
Why can't Google share with everyone? We're all about information retrieval and accessibility, so why prevent that due to competition?
In the name of Do No Evil, why not just donate cash to the libraries and the Open Content Aliance so everyone can benefit from the work?
I think that would be the best solution for everyone.
Forum discussion continues at WebmasterWorld.