Preserving the Public Domain
Official Google Blog: Preserving public domain books: Google Blog is announcing today that they have taken an exciting step in advancing the public domain by making available a number of public domain books. This is truly great news.
While the debate over how we as a society should best responsibly deal with copyright issues rages on, one thing we do know is that much of what has writers and artists have produced in the past does today legitimately fall in the public domain. Digitizing this public domain is a huge undertaking, but one that will make us all richer as a society by having these valuable works at our fingertips going forward.
Digitizing these books by Google is a great first step. But I would challenge Google or Microsoft or Yahoo! (Flickr?) or anyone else who would be so inclined to continue this good work. Equally as important as the great writings of the past is the great art that has been produced in the past. So many paintings are locked up in museums and private collections, long past copyright, that could be digitized and freely distributed to the world’s population. How much richer would we all be to have this art at our fingertips and also on display on our plasma screens and flat panel monitors that adorn today’s digital home. The question is, who next will step up to the plate and digitize our public domain art?