October 3 , 2005 — What a great idea! Why didn’t we think of that? Google Print’s ambitious effort to digitize the world’s book literature has inspired others to initiate their own effort. And, with the Google Print program caught in the snag of a copyright lawsuit, the sight of a relay race handoff keeps hope burning for a brighter digital future. The just announced Open Content Alliance (OCA; http://www.opencontentalliance.org) creates an international network of academics, libraries, publishers, technological firms, and a major search engine competitor to Google—all working on a new mass book digitization initiative. The goal of the effort is to establish a flexible, open infrastructure for bringing large collections of digitized material into the open Web. Permanently archived digital content, which is selected for its value by librarians, should offer a new model for collaborative library collection building, according to one OCA member. While openness will characterize content in the program, the OCA will also adhere to protection of the rights of copyright holders.
OCA founding members include the Internet Archive; Yahoo! Search; Hewlett-Packard Labs; Adobe Systems; the University of California; the University of Toronto; the European Archive; the National Archives (U.K.); O’Reilly Media, Inc.; and Prelinger Archives. The Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org), which is led by Brewster Kahle, will provide hosting and administrative services for a single, permanent repository. Technological and some financial support will come from Adobe and Hewlett-Packard. Yahoo! Search will supply initial search engine access as well as technological support and some funding.