Libraries pull down the tower of knowledge

When books go out of print, they should be open source by definition. Authors and publishers should be pressured to donate their works to libraries under open source license.

Pamela Jones of Groklaw has a real good read out, published on Sunday.

It's not about SCO. It's about the British Library. And it's about how a draconian DRM regime, pushed by Microsoft and endorsed by the 1998 DMCA, is destroying the whole idea of a library.

Here is the key portion:

Draconian DRM is undeniably altering what a library is and how knowledge can be found and used. It alters not only what libraries are like; it alters the way copyright law works, without anyone passing a law. And it makes corporations like Adobe enforcers of the law and of whatever restrictions authors and publishers choose to place on top of the law. Where is the statute that says how many times you can copy something within what time frame? Who decides what is fair? Who passed a law banning fair use rights?

If Groklaw were in the British Library, and I were able to borrow a digital copy, I could not do what I just did -- quote from the document. The software, enforcing British law, would have prevented it.

And thus is the tower of knowledge pulled down.

Open source is the principle of the great libraries in action. Code goes into a common pool, and the tower of knowledge rises in proportion. The current copyright law is destroying this principle everywhere else. Unless you have a printed book, a paper book, you lose all the fair use rights you once had, and libraries are powerless.

Creative Commons tries to stand against this, but even its system is, at best, a BSD license. The Progress & Freedom Foundation wants to extend this regime to books that no longer sell, that can no longer be published on paper. It calls these "orphan works."

When are we going to learn that the answer to all this is very, very simple. When books go out of print, they should be open source by definition. Authors and publishers should be pressured to donate their works to libraries under open source license.

Otherwise, the closed source regime for words is going to pull the whole tower of knowledge down.

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