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Open Content Alliance takes on Microsoft and Google Book Search

Open Content AllianceSure, Google and Microsoft may talk about ambitious plans to make the full text of every book available online for searching and reading. But the New York Times reports that some major research libraries aren't happy with the terms offered by Microsoft and Google.

In the past, we'd heard a lot of complaints from book publishers who alleged that Google was violating their copyrights. But these research institutions are taking an almost opposite stance. They say they want to make sure books are available to widest possible audience. But Microsoft and Google each require publishers to promise their books won't be available through other commercial book search services.

Instead, these groups are signing up with the Open Content Alliance. The Open Content Alliance is a nonprofit group dedicated to creating a publicly accessible library of digitized books. The group was started 2 years ago. So far it looks like the OCA is a bit behind Microsoft and Google. There's no searchable OCA web site yet. But the group does offer an alternative for research institutions that aren't happy with Microsoft and Google's offerings.

While prominent libraries including the New York Public Library, Harvard, and the University of Michigan have already signed up with Google, last month 19 New England area research and academic institutions including the University of Connecticut and the University of Massachusetts announced they would work with the OCA. Those 19 institutions have a total of 34 million works whose copyrights have expired, making them ideal candidates for digitization.

The Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution and about 80 other organizations have already signed up with OCA.

Tags: book-search, google-book-search, microsoft-book-search, open-content-alliance