Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Online Books Page

There has been much controversy lately over Google's plan to digitize and put online the contents of some of the greatest libraries in the world. The big publishing houses are protesting what they see as infringement of copyright law.

American copyright law is extremely restrictive in terms of length of protection compared to Europe. In America, for works created on or after January 1, 1978, the copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. This is excessive. In Europe, copyrights last only 50 years period. No "life of the author plus" business.

In any case, there already are vast numbers of books in the public domain available online. One of the best sites is The Online Books Page at the University of Pennsylvania. These folks have linked to and organized books on nearly every conceivable topic. Vast numbers of books are being added there daily.


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