by Mike Masnick
Fri, Jul 18th 2008 5:21pm
Copyright was clearly designed for a different age: when not everyone was a "publisher." And while we've spent years pointing out many of the different problems that has caused, here's another one: how is a library or some other institution charged with "archiving" written works for posterity supposed to deal with copyright laws that can often make such archival activities against the law? Well, the Library of Congress and a bunch of other organizations have a suggestion: let them all ignore copyright law for the sake of archiving. Basically, the report recommends that certain organizations be designated as "preservation institutions," which are then more or less allowed to ignore copyright law and copy-at-will for the sake of preservation. Of course, this is clearly going to lead to many questions, including just who would get designated as such. Many people can probably agree on public libraries and such -- but what about Google? After all, Google is already one of the largest players in "preserving" what's online and also, with its book scanning project, what's in books. Yet it's a private, for-profit company. Should it qualify? I would argue that it makes sense to allow it, given how beneficial the archival activities of Google have already been. Even if it is for profit, the public benefit has been tremendous as well. But then what's to stop any other company from arguing that it to deserves an exemption for preservation purposes? Wouldn't a better solution be to start rethinking copyright law altogether, since what has become clear from this is that copyright doesn't quite fit today's world any more?
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