[Foundation-l] Info/Law blog: Using Wikisource as an Alternative Open Access Repository for Legal Scholarship

John Vandenberg jayvdb at gmail.com
Sun Jun 21 11:54:32 UTC 2009

On Sun, Jun 21, 2009 at 9:17 PM, Anthony <wikimail at inbox.org> wrote:
> On Sun, Jun 21, 2009 at 1:51 AM, Ray Saintonge <saintonge at telus.net> wrote:
> > Stephen Bain wrote:
> > > On Sun, Jun 21, 2009 at 5:27 AM, Parker Higgins<parkerhiggins at gmail.com>
> > wrote:
> > >
> > >> Except google isn't asserting any kind of copyright control over these
> > >> books, they're just not making it convenient to download them in your
> > >> preferred format.  Maybe not The Right Thing, but not as boneheaded as
> > suing
> > >> a party who reprints public domain material, as was the case in Feist v.
> > >> Rural (the supreme court case you mention.)
> > >>
> > > They want people to use their service. Fair enough, given that the
> > > scanning and OCRing happened on their dime.
> > >
> > >
> > How does that give them any special rights?  There are no database
> > protection laws in the US, and sweat-of-the-brow has been rejected as a
> > basis for new copyrights.
> You're right, it doesn't give them any *special* rights.  They have the same
> rights as any other computer owner.  Specifically, they have the right to
> choose who uses their computers, and how they use them.  Whether or not a
> terms of service is legally binding is really not the issue. (*)  The issue
> is whether or not they have a duty to make it *convenient* for you to
> download the data.  Of course they don't.  Why should they be required to
> help you put them out of business?  That kind of twisted logic might make
> sense in the non-profit world (although I still haven't seen the WMF step up
> to the plate and make it easy for people to make a full history fork, or
> even to download all the images), but Google is not a non-profit
> organization.  Google would be Evil if it *didn't* protect itself against
> this, as it'd be breaking a promise to its shareholders.
> (*) Personally, I'm of the opinion that merely accessing a website is not
> sufficient to bind a websurfer to a TOS, and that at most a TOS which you do
> not have to even click "agree" to is a unilateral contract which can only
> impose promises upon the offeror, though this is not a legal opinion but
> merely my opinion of what the law should be.

Whether Google is good or evil is off-topic, and irrelevant to boot.

There are nearly _750,000_ books from Google that are available on
archive.org, available in DJVU format with OCR.


Microsoft donated many texts directly to IA, but that approach only
netted 440,000 books.


See here for more of the collections:

Also worth noting, Project Gutenberg has digitised less than 30,000
books since 1971.  Distributed Proofreaders has done 15,000 of those
since 2000, so throughput is picking up.  But, there are more than
enough too keep everyone busy for a very long time.

John Vandenberg

More information about the foundation-l mailing list