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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Universal Access to Knowledge?

See In O'Reilly Radar, by Linda Stone, about the recent settlement between Google and publishers regarding the scanning of books. There now appears to be some concern that by paying for the scanning of books and the subsequent legal settlement, Google will be able to tie up the ownership of orphaned works that should be in the public domain. Some believe the settlement effectively gives access to these works to Google alone.

This would be OK for now, since Google is making these works freely available, but is there anything to prevent Google at some later date from charging for them, or otherwise restricting access? Could that portend a future that is less than the goal of universal free access to knowledge?

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