Google ran into a snag on their digitization project, but let’s see what a little bit of open content competition will do for the process. The New York Times is running an article on the Open Content Alliance.
The interesting difference here is that the OCA is based on many hands making light work. Rather than spending millions of dollars digitizing the works of a major library, they are suggesting that smaller, focused collections be scanned by local libraries. The University of California, for example, will be scanning a collection of 15,000 books. Not small by any means, but perhaps more doable than an entire library.
The legal situation here is interesting, from a strategic position. Publishers who have been pushing against the Google plan may be far less interested in suing the University of California, or any of the hundreds of others who will be contributing to the larger project.
The idea of digitizing our current store of book-recorded knowledge is so appealing that I cannot imagine that the legal structures will be able to hold it at bay forever. Or, at least I hope that this is the case.