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Open Content Alliance Digitizes Library Collections
October 22, 2007 12:05 AM   Subscribe

The Open Content Alliance poses a threat to Google and Microsoft's competing library digitization projects. OCA was founded by the Internet Archive, whose main claim to fame is the Wayback Machine, designed to archive the internet's web history. OCA's mission is to open the nation's library collections to universal web search by digitizing books and making them as widely accessible as possible.

A number of major library systems, including the Boston Public Library and Smithsonian, have refused to sign up with competing ventures by Microsoft and Google because they do not provide for universal access to digitized books. These commercial ventures prohibit books being accessed by competing search engines.

So far, 80 libraries and research institutions have signed on with Open Content Alliance. They must pay for the scanning of their books while Google and Microsoft offset that cost for their participating institutions.

See also Libraries Shun Deals to Place Books on Web
posted by richards1052 (9 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
OCA is good stuff, browsing Internet Archive's "What's New" is a lot of fun and massive time killer, like getting lost in the dusty stacks of an old library. It's curious to see how much has changed, and how much has remained the same since the 19th century.

See also Open Library (demo).

BTW the OCA has scanned about 100,000 books the rest of the 250+ thousand books on IA are mostly from Microsoft. I'm pretty sure these are searchable through Google so I'm confused what the problem is with Microsoft's venture (other than the irritating watermarks).
posted by stbalbach at 5:51 AM on October 22, 2007


I'm not clear on exactly how OCA competes with Google & MS on this. True, it blocks their ability to monopolize the indexing, but unless OCA blocks Google's or MS's ability to index them, it doesn't do much except slightly neutralize the importance of monopolizing book content indexing.

I think they must be of less concern to Google than MS, because they seem to be better at leveraging other people's work. (At least, without causing immediately obvious harm.)
posted by lodurr at 6:13 AM on October 22, 2007


(that said, I'd much rather OCA than either G or MS.)
posted by lodurr at 6:14 AM on October 22, 2007


To answer my question above re: Microsofts relationship with the OCA, from the NYT article:

Microsoft joined the Open Content Alliance at its start in 2005 .. A year after joining, Microsoft added a restriction that prohibits a book it has digitized from being included in commercial search engines other than Microsoft’s. Unlike Google, there are no restrictions on the distribution of these copies for academic purposes across institutions.
posted by stbalbach at 7:04 AM on October 22, 2007


More cool stuff from Brewster and the OCA.
posted by stbalbach at 7:26 AM on October 22, 2007


I can foresee big problems with this, but as long as there is a fair opt-out clause (I know they the focus is on out-of-copyright works, but it usually doesn't stay that way) and those behind this venture don't delude themselves into thinking the Internet is just an electronic library, it might be workable. It's inevitable -- but I hope this system will be thought-out carefully.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 9:41 AM on October 22, 2007


Competition in this (and all) realm(s) is a Good Thingtm.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:49 AM on October 22, 2007


Interesting, I read a slightly different version on the International Herald Tribune site the other say. But a few nit picks.

The title of the NYT article is very terribly misleading, it maybe should be something like "Libraries Shun Corporate Deals to Place Books on Web".

richards1052: "OCA's mission is to open the nation's library collections..." not sure if you are quoting this from somewhere but they are working with organizations around the world including the European Archives and many others.

A bit more on the article at FreeGovInfo
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 10:49 AM on October 22, 2007


LOL OCA
posted by oats at 10:05 PM on October 22, 2007


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