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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

Air and Simple Gifts: Public domain shines within latest compositions

I was so happy all day long on Tuesday, watching the country, indeed the world, watch us welcome a new administration. One of the high-points was the fabulous rendering by four of the world’s finest musicians (even if they recorded it in the warmth) of John Williams’ composition, “Air and Simple Gifts,” based on the familiar Shaker melody referenced in the title. Because Simple Gifts belongs to the world, John was free as the air to weave his beautiful composition around it.

It was and is a simple gift, that we let our creative works become the seeds of new creative life at some point. Why, I wonder, have we come to think that the point at which we give our creative wealth to the children of the future should be in the neighborhood of, on average, a century after we created them? How on earth did we get to the point where we believe that that’s a good idea?

Listen to the performance. Savor the complexity built around the simplicity. Beautiful isn’t it?

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