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EU to the rescue

The ALA reports that the European Union has created a resolution to the problem raised by Google's digitizing "orphan" and out-of-print titles - books whose copyright holder is not immediately apparent.

The group recommended that digital copies of orphan works—for whom no copyright holder can be identified—be made available for noncommercial purposes after a thorough search for copyright holders is completed, according to a European Commission press release.

For materials that are out of print but still under copyright, the group proposed that libraries be granted a license that bestows nonexclusive and nontransferable rights to digitize and make their holdings available to users on a closed network of other European libraries, museums, and archives.

This seems like a great solution that the US could adopt. But copyright is so aggressively guarded here (to wit: DMCA), it may be some time before publishers see the benefits in providing the text for search.
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