Open Access News

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What are the terms of OCA contracts with libraries?

Peter Hirtle, How open is the Open Content Alliance? LibraryLaw Blog, October 30, 2007.  (Thanks to Klaus Graf.)  Excerpt:

...[In] last Sunday's London Times...there was an article on the rather remarkable Espresso Book Machine: a self-contained print-on-demand system.  Two things struck me in the article: first, that they were in negotiations with a major English bookseller to house the machines, and second, that they would be providing Open Content Alliance (OCA) digitized books for printing and sale.

I'm all in favor of making library materials available in different formats.  The Cornell and Michigan libraries, for example, are offering many of their digitized titles through Amazon, and sales have been brisk.  The libraries receive a small royalty on each sale, though the primary purpose is to increase availability. 

The Times article made me wonder if the libraries participating in the OCA would also receive royalties from commercial use of public domain works that they have digitized from their collections.  It doesn't seem fair that everyone associated with the production of printed public domain books (On Demand Books, the maker of the printer; the bookseller where it is located; and for all I know the OCA itself) might make money on the arrangement, but the library that provides the content that drives the system only gets to pay to have it digitized in the first place. 

So that made me think that I should read one of the agreements between the OCA and its collaborators.  I couldn't find any.  Thanks to open access laws, many of the Google agreements are freely available; you just need to go to Google's partners' page and follow the links.  Because they are available, the community has been able to debate the terms.

I would expect no less from the OCA.  If the OCA won't post them, let's hope that someone soon requests them under FOIA.

Update. Here's the contract between the Internet Archive, on behalf of the OCA, and the Boston Public Library, April 13, 2007. (Thanks to Rick Prelinger via John Mark Ockerbloom via Klaus Graf.)

Update. Also see Peter Hirtle's comments on the OCA contract with the Boston Public Library.

...First, there is no question that the agreement is one of the most open, if not the most open, digitization agreements yet released.  I particularly like that there are almost no restrictions on the use that the IA can make of the scans, and no restrictions on the use that individuals and groups other than the IA can make....

Finally, let's stop suggesting that these OCA initiatives, as desirable as they might be, are somehow an alternative to the Google and Microsoft digitization agreements.  This agreement is for the scanning of up to 3500 volumes.  Some of the Google projects are reportedly doing almost that much each dayLet's not compare apples and oranges.

UPDATE: Mary pointed out to me a very comprehensive guide to large scale digitization agreements created and maintained by OCLC.