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The E-Sylum:  Volume 8, Number 3, January 16, 2005, Article 17

GOOGLE DIGITIZING SPAWNS COPYRIGHT REFORM REQUEST.

Dick Johnson writes: "A law professor at Stanford University,
in a January 12, 2005 article, responds to the announcement
a month ago of Google partnering with five major libraries to
place 20 million books in its search base. He recognizes this
could be a dramatic change in how research is accomplished –
to the betterment and spread of culture – but identifies what he
calls "a dirty little secret," the legal right to copy these books.

Lawrence Lessig’s article "Let a Thousand Googles Bloom,"
proposes that the copyright law be changed, to make it easier
to track who owns what copyright. He illustrates this need in
the number of books which were copyright in the year 1930
and how many of these are still in print. The 99 percent which
are out-of-print are still under copyright, but locating the owner
is nearly impossible.

He proposes that copyrights should be renewed every five
years. This would create the database of owners who could
approve – or reject – placing the full contents of a book in a
search database. His title implies there should be many
Googles.

Copyright concern dramatically affects numismatic books.
Our field may be unusual in that 100-year-old books are
still in active use. Often a numbering system created within
the text of a specialized numismatic work becomes permanent.
Out-of-print numismatic books are often reprinted for their
continued utility, particularly those with universal use of their
numbering systems.

Publishers of ephemeral books may drop a title after only a
year’s exposure to the book-buying public. Numismatic
books are different, they are slow sellers -- no blockbusters
here! -- but remain in active demand for decades.

Two examples of 100-year-plus books come to mind: Baker’s
Medallic Portraits of Washington (1885) and Betts’ American
Colonial Medals (1894). Baker has been revised twice (by
indefatigable toilers Russ Rulau and George Fuld), while Betts
remains surprisingly intact after 108 years. How long should
these original authors, and their heirs, have been paid a royalty
for their copyrighted works?

If you research in the numismatic field or are a numismatic
author, read this: Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

Google
 
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To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor 
at this address: whomren@coinlibrary.com

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Copyright © 2005 The Numismatic Bibliomania Society.

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