October 26, 2005
All the Print that Fits
Posted by Joe Miller

Interesting news today on the book digitization front: According to this story in the New York Times, Microsoft has joined the Open Content Alliance. (For those who can't link through to the Times, you can read the same basic info in this OCA press release.) OCA is the alternative to Google Print. It thus appears that both MSN and Yahoo! will offer search results from the same OCA-sponsored digital data well.
In the shadow of the two recent suits against Google, the most salient difference between Google Print and OCA relates to the decision to scan a library book into the digital archive. Google Print is opt-out (such that the copyright holder must notify Google not to scan it), and OCA is opt-in (such that OCA must inquire of the copyright holder before knowing whether to scan it).
Put aside the (highly contentious, and already well-blogged) copyright law questions. The real debate here is about the completeness of the digital archive, right?
And the juiciest bit in the Times story is not that Microsoft has joined. It is that Google might, too:
"Mr. [Brewster] Kahle [founder of the Internet Archive and a key player behind OCA] has said repeatedly that one of his greatest hopes is to have Google join the project. Mr. Kahle said Tuesday that talks with Google seemed to be progressing toward an agreement. Nathan Tyler, a Google spokesman, confirmed Tuesday that Google was speaking with Mr. Kahle about joining the alliance, but there was nothing yet to announce."

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