Newspaper Archive Disappears From Google, Because Company Wants To Cash In
from the all-about-the-money dept
Another day, another case of copyright being used to lock up information, rather than make it more accessible. In this case, it’s the news archives of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, according to an interesting piece by Henry Grabar over at Slate. A decade or so ago, the newspaper partnered with Google to digitize all of its archives and make them publicly accessible.
The archive had initially been made available on Google around 2008 as part of the company?s effort to digitize historical newspapers. That project ended in 2011, but not before Google had scanned more than 60 million pages covering 250 years of history?s first drafts. Those newspapers have remained publicly accessible, and serve both professional historians and home genealogists.
When the Milwaukee project began, Google used microfilms from the papers that had already been uploaded to the ProQuest research database. Because some things were missing from ProQuest, the Journal-Sentinel asked the Milwaukee Public Library to help out. The library let the company digitize decades of microfilms to bulk out the digital archives.
The article notes that another company, named Newsbank, also has a deal with the Journal-Sentinel to digitize and archive its papers, and tried to get the Milwaukee Public Library to buy access to its database. The library found the offerings way too expensive (it was almost the entire amount of the library’s materials budget). Newsbank decided that part of the problem was that the stuff was also available for free via Google, so it got the Journal-Sentinel to get Google to take down the archive that it had helped create, with help from the library.
Then, in August, Newsbank let the other shoe drop: According to Urban Milwaukee, Gannett?which purchased the paper in April?asked the Journal-Sentinel to ask Google to remove the paper?s digital archives, which the company did. It?s harder to sell a product when it?s being given away for free, after all.
So now the digital archive that the Milwaukee Public Library had helped Google and the Journal-Sentinel create, is no longer available, because another company wants the MPL to pay a significant percentage of its operating budget to access the same material.
What?s different about Milwaukee is that the city is being asked to buy back something it already had?and, in the case of the library?s digital scans, had even helped build.
The library has said that it plans to have the new archive available for people soon — but it likely won’t be free any more. Perhaps because it now needs to pay to get access to the same database it had helped create. Remember when copyright law was supposed to be about furthering knowledge and learning — and not locking it up so that one company could extract all profit from it?