Is It Time For A Federal Scanning Commission?

from the yes-we-scan? dept

We just wrote about the move by the House Oversight Committee to put hours upon hours of archive footage of hearings up on YouTube, led by Carl Malamud, who (we noted) is always working on interesting projects to make government data more accessible. Carl Malamud, himself, wrote in (actually, before we posted that other story — so he must have known we were about to write about him!) to alert us to another project he’s working on: trying to get the government to create a Federal Scanning Commission, to focus on scanning tons of government content and putting it online. As he says:

Locked in our federal vaults is a tremendous storehouse of information that if digitized would form a core for our digital public libraries in America with huge benefit for our country: cutting costs in the Federal government, creating jobs throughout America, and revolutionizing how we educate our citizens, how we practice the law, and how we create news, art, and scholarly works.

Imagine if the riches contained in the National Archives, Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution, Government Printing Office, National Library of Medicine, National Agricultural Library, National Technical Information Service, and scores of other federal organizations were made available, becoming the core of a national effort to make access to knowledge a right for all Americans. The dream is a big one, but if we do not begin the questions of what it would take to get there, we will never start down that road. Today, we don’t know what it would take.

There’s also one of those White House petitions to go along with this program… This would be a big project, but it seems like one government project that would be worthwhile.

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Comments on “Is It Time For A Federal Scanning Commission?”

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Mr Big Content says:

Too Risky

The trouble is, you cannot absolutely 100% guarantee that everything scanned and released in this way is in fact in the public domain. All it needs is one little slipup, just one bit of unintentional piracy, and the incredible legal, moral, economic and intellectual damage from that will completely destroy what little good the whole project might have hoped to achieve. All down the drain, just like that.

That?s why it can?t be allowed.

Violated (profile) says:

Public Domain

This is certainly a scheme that the US Government should do and they only have to find out how best to. Old media does need to be put through digital conversion and such a huge public domain source would be wonderful.

The main problem in all this is that the United States has a mandatory copyright term on all audio recordings that expires somewhere around 2068. So this can be Public Domain as in silent or Public Domain as in released control for the public good.

Then let us not forget that third party productions can usually be subject copyright protection even if tax payer money funded the whole production.

This all reflects how Public Domain media, even Government sourced, is treated like trash next to copyright media. At least vast volumes of media is available for conversion and much of this is quite quick and easy.

Violated (profile) says:

Re: Re: Public Domain

“expires somewhere around 2068”

HAHAHA, in your dreams. It wont ever expire, it will just get more extensions. Face it, its infinity+95years.

Laugh all you want but before this Federal level copyright term audio recordings were subject to state law and many of those did grant eternal protection.

So we moved from no hope to slim hope.

iBelieve says:

You should keep dreaming..

What government freely gives up their nationally treasured archives in which where so expensively obtained through the sweat, blood of hard working , fighting Americans and others, and treasury of funds only to give them away essentially to the rest of the world? That would be counter-productive in the worst way. If you want access to that highly prized national archive of information, maybe you should first become a member of congress or join the military and obtain a top level security clearance.

Squid Lips says:

That would be tearing down a multi-billion dollar industry...

It sure is a beutiful dream. Unfortunately you’d simultaniously tear down a $multi-billion industry of false/obscured information to make it happen.

I think it should be done one step at a time, and we’ll start with publishing ALL enacted and proposed laws which pass through Congress to include who wrote it, and who they get paid by, and who else gets paid by the same source and whether they voted yay or nay on the bill.

We’ll install a guillotine next to every exit of the Congressional floor to streamline the execs.

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