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Free the Books

conjugating international copyright laws
As a Google Library Partner , The University of Texas Libraries will digitize at least one million books from the Libraries’ unique collections, starting with our Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection. This rich collection holds over 800,000 titles about and from Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Librarians, faculty and alumni acquired these works by gift, exchange and purchase over eight decades to create a comprehensive collection to support teaching and research at the university.

Current technologies enable us to provide virtual access to these collections for study anywhere, but a tangle of international treaties and copyright laws complicates our use and distribution of foreign works. There is little guidance to help us reliably identify which of our books are already in the public domain so we are piloting a project to develop new tools for ourselves and for anyone who wants to tackle these difficult public domain problems. We will document our process, our progress and our results on these pages along with links to web resources we find useful. We invite suggestions and comments from other Google Library Partners and anyone undertaking similar or related projects. Comment on our posts.

Email us at freethebooks@gmail.com. We are here; we are building an evidence base and we are looking for virtual partners!

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 / conjugating international copyright laws

Ah, is the public in for a treat!

A little off-topic, about the public interest in access to the goings on of the justice system more so than the public interest in access to the works the public is entitled to use as it sees fit when coyright has done its job already — Harvard’s Berkman Center founder, Charles Nesson, is representing Joel Tanenbaum, one of the 35,000 individuals sued so far in the RIAA’s “sue your customers into accepting your ideas about the future of the music industry” approach to its decade of difficulties. That’s The Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

Well, in a double (at least) twist of irony, with a ruling that adroitly uses plays on words, double-meanings (reading it is a delight), the judge in the case agreed with Nesson about the benefit of admitting the Internet into the courtroom for an upcoming hearing. The plaintiff in this case, Sony Music BMG, wholeheartedly embraced the idea too …

Yeah, you must have caught that one, right? No way Sony agreed. Sony opposed the motion and, well, the Chronicle blog post explains what the judge said in her ruling:

“The public benefit of offering a more complete view of these proceedings is plain, especially via a medium so carefully attuned to the Internet Generation captivated by these file-sharing lawsuits,” Judge Nancy Gertner wrote. “‘Public’ today has a new resonance, especially in this case.”

Sony had opposed the Internet broadcast, arguing in court documents that the goal of the request was “to influence the proceedings themselves and to increase the defendant’s and his counsel’s notoriety,” The Boston Globe reported.

Judge Gertner called Sony’s objections “curious.” Recording companies’ mass-lawsuit campaign, she said, “effectively relies on the publicity resulting from this litigation.” (In a footnote, however, she acknowledged the recording industry’s move away from mass lawsuits, saying, “It is possible the plaintiffs have now changed their minds about the virtues of this strategy.”)

Interesting to see a judge slap a plaintiff silly! The decorum of the courtroom rarely admits of such directness. I can hardly wait to tune in.

[N]ext Thursday the Courtroom View Network will narrowcast the hearing — an oral argument — to the Berkman Center’s site.

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