Thursday, January 13, 2005

Los Angeles Times: Let a Thousand Googles Bloom

Lawrence Lessig points to serious problems with current copyright legislation and practice...
excerpt: "The basic problem is simple. A copyright is a property right. Yet our particular system of copyrights is insanely inefficient. Rights get created easily enough — a copyright is automatic; you need do nothing to secure it. But tracking who owns the rights created is astonishingly difficult. There is no Google for determining what works are protected by copyright; there is no Google for tracking down current copyright holders. The law creates a property right, but leaves it practically impossible to respect that property right for older, out-of-print works." -(Lawrence Lessig)
This issue has enormous impact on academic libraries. Frequently faculty seek copies of works that are out of print but conceivably still under copyright. Trying to establish the copyright status of a book can be prohibitively expensive just in terms of time.