Monday, October 30, 2006

Article: Impacts of Mass Digitization Projects on Libraries and Information Policy

The Oct/Nov issue of the assis&t Bulletin has this article entitled "Impacts of Mass Digitization Projects on Libraries and Information Policy." Included in the article is commentary on the role of publishers, booksellers and libraries in the digital age.

And what caught my eye in this article?
In regard to the types of works involved in the Google 5 project, about 15% are out of copyright, in the public domain. For the 85% that are in copyright, about 20% are in print and available for sale via normal retail channels, and about 65% are out of print and available via used booksellers, libraries, document delivery and print-on-demand. It is this last group – those that are still under copyright but not in print – that will be most impacted. Nearly every book in America goes out of print within five years. Mass digitization will mean that nothing will ever go out of print.
And in talking about orphan works...
The orphan works problem is huge because only 4% of books are in print, and more than 75% are in a “twilight zone” – they may be in print but they are not for sale because the rights have reverted to the author. Or they may be in the public domain, but we do not know for certain – only 20% are known for certain to be in the public domain.

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