A consortium of nonprofits, universities and private sector companies have launched a digital book library project called Open Content Alliance. Driven by the Internet Archive, the consortium includes the universities of California and Toronto, international archives, and private companies like Yahoo!, Adobe, and O'Reilly Media.
From the OCA website:
The Open Content Alliance (OCA) represents the collaborative efforts of a group of cultural, technology, nonprofit, and governmental organizations from around the world that will help build a permanent archive of multilingual digitized text and multimedia content. Content in the OCA archive will be accessible soon through this website and through Yahoo!
And Brewster Kahle, Internet Archive founder, posting on the Yahoo! blog:
"We believe that donors should have the option to restrict the bulk re-hosting of a substantial part of a collection. This seems fair and is similar to the Creative Commons Sampling license. Interestingly University of California and Yahoo have decided to not put any restrictions. So if another library wants to re-host these on their website, or another search engine wants to integrate them into their page flipping system, they are welcome to. This is so great — let's let the public domain stay public and build business models on in-print materials.
To be clear, the public domain works in the Open Content Alliance can be 'borrowed' in bulk for building navigation services, doing research on, and the like. Bits and pieces of the public domain collections can be re-used and re-interpreted. If someone wants to print and binding a book and sell it on Amazon.com -- go nuts; if they want to make it into an audio book and post it on the web -- go for it (we will even supply the hosting for this); basically let's have a blast building on the classics of humankind."