Yale Adopts Open Access Policy for Digitized Images

Yale University has adopted an open access policy for digitized images from its museums, archives, and libraries. Yale has also launched the Discover Yale Digital Commons, which has over 250,000 images.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

The goal of the new policy is to make high quality digital images of Yale's vast cultural heritage collections in the public domain openly and freely available.

As works in these collections become digitized, the museums and libraries will make those images that are in the public domain freely accessible. In a departure from established convention, no license will be required for the transmission of the images and no limitations will be imposed on their use. The result is that scholars, artists, students, and citizens the world over will be able to use these collections for study, publication, teaching and inspiration.

| Digital Scholarship | Digital Scholarship Publications Overview | Transforming Scholarly Publishing through Open Access: A Bibliography |

"Bibliographic Indeterminacy and the Scale of Problems and Opportunities of ‘Rights’ in Digital Collection Building"

The Council on Library and Information Resources has released "Bibliographic Indeterminacy and the Scale of Problems and Opportunities of 'Rights' in Digital Collection Building" as the first paper in its new "Ruminations" series.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

CLIR has launched a new publication series, "Ruminations." The series will feature short research papers and essays that bring new perspective to issues related to planning for and managing organizational and institutional change in the evolving digital environment for scholarship and teaching.

We inaugurate the new series with a report by John P. Wilkin that posits the scope of works in the public domain and probable extent of orphan works in our research library collections, based on an analysis of the HathiTrust book corpus. The question of rights status is critical since it governs how works can be used or reused, especially in the digital environment.

Recent research shows that HathiTrust's collection—which currently holds more than 5 million digitized books—is highly representative of research library collections. On this premise, Wilkin has analyzed HathiTrust's holdings and drawn preliminary conclusions about the proportion of works that are in-copyright, in the public domain, or are orphans—that is, works whose holders cannot be located.

| Digital Scholarship | Digital Scholarship Publications Overview |

Public.Resource.Org Launches Yes We Scan

Public.Resource.Org, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, has launched its Yes We Scan campaign to digitize and make available 300 volumes of the First Series of the Federal Reporter.

Here's an excerpt:

Now, you too can help, by adopting one of the 300 volumes of the First Series of the Federal Reporter, which are all out of copyright. Your tax-deductible contribution of $1200 will pay to double-key 1,000 pages of Federal Appellate Opinions, and copies will be donated to the National Archives and the Government Printing Office.

Your name—and the link of your choice—will be inscribed on the Public Domain Wall of Fame and each case in your adopted volume will be a separate HTML file with a common footer

This volume of American Law was transcribed for use on the Internet through a contribution from [Your Name Here!!]

| Digital Scholarship |

"The Size of the EU Public Domain"

Rufus Pollock and Paul Stepan have self-archived "The Size of the EU Public Domain."

Here's an excerpt:

This paper reports results from a large recent study of the public domain in the European Union. Based on a combination of catalogue and survey data our figures for the number of items (and works) in the public domain extend across a variety of media and provide one of the first quantitative estimates of the 'size' of the public domain in any jurisdiction.

See also their related eprint "The Value of the EU Public Domain."

H.R. 5704 Would Extend Copyright Protection to Works of Faculty at Department of Defense Service Academies and Schools of Professional Military Education

Rep. Todd Platts has introduced H.R. 5704 in the House, which would "allow faculty members at Department of Defense service academies and schools of professional military education to secure copyrights for certain scholarly works that they produce as part of their official duties in order to submit such works for publication, and for other purposes." Such works are currently in the public domain.

Read more about it at "Bill Would Curb Access to Government Works."

WIPO: Scoping Study on Copyright and Related Rights and the Public Domain

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has released Scoping Study on Copyright and Related Rights and the Public Domain.

Here's an excerpt:

Protection of the public domain comprises two steps, as laid down by the [WIPO] Development Agenda: first, identifying the contours of the public domain, thereby helping to assess its value and realm, and, second, considering and promoting the conservation and accessibility of the public domain.

The present study will follow the same direction as it will first assess the scope of the public domain, as defined by copyright laws, history and philosophy, before turning to the issue of its effectiveness and greater availability to the public and society at large. This will lead to the formulation of some recommendations that, by viewing the public domain as material that should receive some positive status and protection, might help to support a robust public domain, as advocated by the Development Agenda.

Europeana Publishes Public Domain Charter

The Europeana Foundation, the governing body of the Europeana service, has published its Public Domain Charter. The Europeana beta currently links users to around 6 million digital objects. About 10 million digital objects are expected to be available this year, when version 1.0 becomes operational.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

Today Europeana officially publishes the Public Domain Charter. It takes a strong position in support of the Public Domain, saying that:

Europeana belongs to the public and must represent the public interest. The Public Domain is the material from which society creates cultural understanding and knowledge. Having a thriving Public Domain is essential to economic and social well-being. Digitisation of Public Domain content does not create new rights over it. Works that are in the Public Domain in analogue form continue to be in the Public Domain once they have been digitised. . . .

The Charter is published by the Europeana Foundation, our governing body (now completing its name change from the EDL Foundation). The Charter is a policy statement, not a contract. It doesn't bind any of Europeana's content providers. It recognises the dilemma in which heritage institutions find themselves. Our partners' drive to digitise and make Public Domain content accessible is tempered by a recognition of the costs involved, and the need to arrive at the most appropriate agreements with those who are willing and able to fund digitisation programmes—including the private sector.

We are developing plans to label the rights associated with a digitised item very clearly so that they are understood by Europeana's users, who will be able to exclude content from their results that requires payment or doesn't comply with the Public Domain Charter. Rights labelling will become a requirement when submitting content to Europeana by the end of this year.

While Public-Private Partnerships are an important means of getting content digitised, the Charter recommends that deals are non-exclusive, for very limited time periods, and don't take material out of the Public Domain.

U.S. National Archives Become Member of the Flickr Commons

The U.S. National Archives have become a member of the Flickr Commons. To join the Commons, members must "claim 'no known copyright restrictions' on the content they share." Here's the National Archives' photostream.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

To mark the opening of its photostream in the Commons today, the National Archives is posting a new photo set containing more than two hundred photographs of the American West by renowned American photographer Ansel Adams. The photographs, taken between 1941 and 1942 as part of a Department of the Interior mural project, feature the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Glacier and Zion national parks, in addition to Death Valley, Saguero, and Canyon de Chelly national monuments.

The Ansel Adams photographs join a larger selection of more than 3,000 National Archives images that are part of the National Archives' Flickr photostream. The photostream contains a variety of images from some of the National Archives most popular collections, including images of the Civil War by Mathew Brady and associates; images from the Environmental Protection Agency's 1970s photo-documentary project DOCUMERICA; images from the Records of the Women's Bureau depicting women in the war labor effort during World War II; and a grouping of favorite photos and documents from the National Archives, featuring among others the 1970 photograph of President Nixon shaking hands with Elvis Presley.

The Public Domain Manifesto

COMMUNIA has released The Public Domain Manifesto and seeks organizations and individuals to sign it. The Creative Commons, James Boyle, and Lawrence Lessig are among the current signatories.

Here's an excerpt:

  1. The Public Domain is the rule, copyright protection is the exception. Since copyright protection is granted only with respect to original forms of expression, the vast majority of data, information and ideas produced worldwide at any given time belongs to the Public Domain. In addition to information that is not eligible for protection, the Public Domain is enlarged every year by works whose term of protection expires. The combined application of the requirements for protection and the limited duration of the copyright protection contribute to the wealth of the Public Domain so as to ensure access to our shared culture and knowledge.
  2. Copyright protection should last only as long as necessary to achieve a reasonable compromise between protecting and rewarding the author for his intellectual labour and safeguarding the public interest in the dissemination of culture and knowledge. From neither the perspective of the author nor the general public do any valid arguments exist (whether historical, economic, social or otherwise) in support of an exceedingly long term of copyright protection. While the author should be able to reap the fruits of his intellectual labour, the general public should not be deprived for an overly long period of time of the benefits of freely using those works.
  3. What is in the Public Domain must remain in the Public Domain. Exclusive control over Public Domain works must not be reestablished by claiming exclusive rights in technical reproductions of the works, or using technical protection measures to limit access to technical reproductions of such works.
  4. The lawful user of a digital copy of a Public Domain work should be free to (re-)use, copy and modify such work. The Public Domain status of a work does not necessarily mean that it must be made accessible to the public. The owners of physical works that are in the Public Domain are free to restrict access to such works. However once access to a work has been granted then there ought not be legal restrictions on the re-use, modification or reproduction of these works.
  5. Contracts or technical protection measures that restrict access to and re-use of Public Domain works must not be enforced. The Public Domain status of a work guarantees the right to re-use, modify and reproduce. This also includes user prerogatives arising from exceptions and limitations, fair use and fair dealing, ensuring that these cannot be limited by contractual or technological means.

Cornell Gives about 80,000 Digitized Public Domain Books to Internet Archive

The Cornell University Library has given about 80,000 digitized public domain books to the Internet Archive.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

In an effort to make its materials globally accessible, Cornell University Library is sharing tens of thousands of digitized books with the Internet Archive.

"We have been carefully preserving and storing materials for years, and now we're diversifying the channels for them to be studied and used," said Oya Reiger, associate university librarian for information technologies. "We have the ability to take books to the places where readers are."

The new collaboration repurposes nearly 80,000 books that the Library has already digitized in-house or through its partnership with Microsoft and Kirtas Technologies. All the books are in the public domain, printed before 1923 mainly in the United States. They cover a host of subject areas, including American history, English literature, astronomy, food and wine, general engineering, the history of science, home economics, hospitality and travel, labor relations, Native American materials, ornithology, veterinary medicine and women's studies. . . .

"Expanding access to knowledge is one of the Library's core principles, and we are excited to participate in the open-access vision of the Internet Archive," said Anne R. Kenney, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian.

The collaboration with Internet Archive is another step in Cornell University Library's cutting-edge participation in mass digitization initiatives. Earlier this year, the Library announced an expanded print-on-demand partnership with Amazon.com that allows readers to pay for reprinting of books on an individual basis.

"The Internet Archive is proud to process and host the books from Cornell — these collections are priceless," said Brewster Kahle, founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive. "We are happy that Microsoft put no restrictions on the scanned public domain books and Cornell is encouraging maximum readership and research use."

Performing a simple search for one of Cornell University Library's digitized books now brings up both a copy on Amazon and a free online copy on the Internet Archive.

"Removing All Restrictions: Cornell's New Policy on Use of Public Domain Reproductions"

Peter Hirtle, Cornell University Library's Senior Policy Advisor, is interviewed in "Removing All Restrictions: Cornell's New Policy on Use of Public Domain Reproductions," which has been published in the latest issue of Research Library Issues.

Here's an excerpt:

Restrictions on the use of public domain work, sometimes labeled "copyfraud," are generating increasing criticism from the scholarly community. With significant collections of public domain materials in their collections, research libraries are faced with the question of what restrictions, if any, to place on those who seek to scan or otherwise reproduce these resources with the intention of publication.

Cornell University Library has responded by adopting new permissions guidelines that open access by no longer requiring users to seek permission to publish public domain items duplicated from its collections. Users planning to scan and publish public domain material are still expected to determine that works are in the public domain where they live (since public domain determinations can vary internationally). Users must also respect noncopyright rights, such as the rights of privacy, publicity, and trademark. The Library will continue to charge service fees associated with the reproduction of analog material or the provision of versions of files different than what is freely available on the Web. The new guidelines are found at http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/guidelines.html.

"A Defense of the Public Domain: A Scholarly Essay"

Laura N. Gasaway, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law, has self-archived "A Defense of the Public Domain: A Scholarly Essay" in SelectedWorks.

Here's the abstract:

Much has been written for librarians about copyright law. Despite the importance of the public domain, it has attracted much less scholarly attention than has copyright law generally, and yet a healthy and robust public domain is crucial to our society. It provides the building blocks for authors, composers, artists and movie makers who can borrow from public domain works without seeking permission of copyright owners. Unfortunately, the public domain is under attack from expanding the term of copyright, to making it more difficult for works to enter the public domain to the restoration of some foreign copyrights that had entered the public domain in the United States. Some librarians have asked whether vigorous application of fair use could not substitute for the shrinking public domain. It cannot. Fair use is a defense to copyright infringement and is very fact determinate. A court's finding of fair use applies only to the two parties to the litigation while the public domain is available to everyone from individual users of works, to artists and authors and to publishers and producers. It is crucial that the public domain be energetically defended. Today, it is not clear whether an author can even place his or her work in the public domain since copyright attaches automatically. A statutory method must be developed so that authors who wish to do so can easily place their works in the public domain.

No Contract Awarded for GPO Mass Digitization of All Federal Publications

The U.S. Government Printing Office has been unable to award a contract for the digitization of all Federal publications.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

In 2004, GPO proposed digitizing all retrospective Federal publications back to the earliest days of the Federal Government. Following the conduct of a pilot project in 2006 and its evaluation in 2007, we issued an RFP in 2008 for a cooperative relationship with a public or private sector participant or participants where the uncompressed, unaltered files created as a result of the conversion process would be delivered to GPO at no cost to the Government, for ingest into GPO's Federal Digital System (FDsys). Unfortunately, we were unable to make an award for this RFP in the allocated timeframe.

We are very disappointed in this setback, but are currently developing new digitization alternatives. In addition to our longstanding goal of serving as one of the repositories for electronic files through the submission of material to FDsys, our focus for digitization will be on coordinating projects among institutions, assisting in the establishment and implementation of preservation guidelines, maintaining a registry of digitization projects, and ensuring that there is appropriate bibliographic metadata for the titles in the collection.

New York Public Library and Kirtas Technologies Make Half-Million Public Domain Books Available

The New York Public Library and Kirtas Technologies are making a half-million public domain books available for sale as digitized or printed copies.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

Readers and researchers looking for hard-to-find books now have the opportunity to dip into the collections of one of the world's most comprehensive libraries to purchase digitized copies of public domain titles. Through their Digitize-on-Demand program, Kirtas Technologies has partnered with The New York Public Library to make 500,000 public domain works from the Library's collections available (to anyone in the world).

"New technology has allowed the Library to greatly expand access to its collections," said Paul LeClerc, President of The New York Public Library. "Now, for the first time, library users are able to order copies of specific items from our vast public domain collections that are useful to them. Additionally the program creates a digital legacy for future users of the same item and a revenue stream to support our operations. We are very pleased to participate in a program that is so beneficial to everyone involved."

Using existing information from NYPL's catalog records, Kirtas will make the library's public domain books available for sale through its retail site before they are ever digitized. Customers can search for a desired title on www.kirtasbooks.com and place an order for that book. When the order is placed, only then is it pulled from the shelf, digitized and made available as a high-quality reprint or digital file.

What makes this approach to digitization unique is that NYPL incurs no up-front printing, production or storage costs. It also provides the library with a self-funding, commercial model helping it to sustain its digitization programs in the future. Unlike other free or low-cost digitization programs, the library retains the rights and ownership to their own digitized content.

Google Signs Agreement with Maker of Espresso Book Machine Giving it Access to over Two Million E-Books

Google has signed an agreement with On Demand Books, maker of the print-on-demand Espresso Book Machine, giving it access to over two million public domain e-books.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

This unprecedented number of reading options is in addition to the current 1.6 million titles already available directly to consumers via the Espresso Book Machine®. The Espresso Book Machine® is a small, patented high-speed automated book- making machine. In a few minutes it can print, bind and trim a single-copy library- quality paperback book complete with a full-color paperback cover. "ODB, in effect an ATM for books, will radically decentralize direct-to-consumer distribution," says Jason Epstein, Chairman and co-founder of ODB."With the Google inventory the EBM will make it possible for readers everywhere to have access to millions of digital titles in multiple languages, including rare and out of print public domain titles."

"This is a revolutionary product," says Dane Neller, CEO and co founder of ODB."Instead of the traditional Gutenberg model of centrally producing, shipping and selling we sell first, then produce. In a matter of minutes you can get a paperback book identical to one you can get in a store at point of sale. In addition to readers, On Demand Books will bring substantial benefits to authors, retailers and publishers. It has the potential to change the publishing industry."

The Espresso Book Machine® is powered by EspressNet, a proprietary and copyrighted software system that connects EBM to a vast network of permissioned content. Using industry-standard encryption methods EspressNet assures the security of publishers' titles, tracks all jobs, and provides for payments to publishers. Content owners retain full ownership and control of their digital files. . . .

Espresso Book Machines® already are up and running in bookstores, libraries and trade and campus bookstores such as the University of Michigan Shapiro Library Building in Ann Arbor, MI, the Blackwell Bookshop in London, UK, the Bibliotheca Alexandria in Alexandria, Egypt, the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, VT, the University of Alberta Bookstore in Edmonton, Canada and Angus & Robertson Bookstore in Melbourne, Australia. The Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, MA and the University of Melbourne Library in Melbourne, Australia soon will carry their own EBM.

Over One Million Public Domain E-Books from Google Now Available in EPUB Format

Over one million public domain e-books from Google are now also available in the standard EPUB format.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

I'm excited to announce that starting today, Google Books will offer free downloads of these and more than one million more public domain books in an additional format, EPUB. By adding support for EPUB downloads, we're hoping to make these books more accessible by helping people around the world to find and read them in more places. More people are turning to new reading devices to access digital books, and many such phones, netbooks, and e-ink readers have smaller screens that don't readily render image-based PDF versions of the books we've scanned. EPUB is a lightweight text-based digital book format that allows the text to automatically conform (or "reflow") to these smaller screens. And because EPUB is a free, open standard supported by a growing ecosystem of digital reading devices, works you download from Google Books as EPUBs won't be tied to or locked into a particular device. We'll also continue to make available these books in the popular PDF format so you can see images of the pages just as they appear in the printed book.

Sony Offers One Million Public Domain Books for Its Current E-Book Readers

Sony has announced that one million public domain books from Google are available for its current e-book readers.

In related news, there are rumors that two new Sony e-book readers may be released in August.

Read more about it at "Sony E-Readers Get Access to 1M Free Public Domain Books from Google" and "Sony to Offer 1 Million Google Books through Its Readers."

U.S. Federal Government Launches Data.gov

The U.S. Federal Government has launched Data.gov.

Here's an excerpt from the home page:

The purpose of Data.gov is to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. Although the initial launch of Data.gov provides a limited portion of the rich variety of Federal datasets presently available, we invite you to actively participate in shaping the future of Data.gov by suggesting additional datasets and site enhancements to provide seamless access and use of your Federal data.

Read more about it at "Data.gov Launched by Federal Government"; "Data.gov Launches to Mixed Reviews"; and "Data.gov Now Live; Looks Nice But Short on Data."

Cornell Lifts Use Restrictions on Reproductions of Public Domain Works, Including over 70,000 E-Books

The Cornell University Library has eliminated use restrictions on reproductions of public domain works, including over 70,000 e-books.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

In a dramatic change of practice, Cornell University Library has announced it will no longer require its users to seek permission to publish public domain items duplicated from its collections. Instead, users may now use reproductions of public domain works made for them by the Library or available via Web sites, without seeking any further permission.

The Library, as the producer of digital reproductions made from its collections, has in the past licensed the use of those reproductions. Individuals and corporations that failed to secure permission to repurpose these reproductions violated their agreement with the Library. "The threat of legal action, however," noted Anne R. Kenney, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian, "does little to stop bad actors while at the same time limits the good uses that can be made of digital surrogates. We decided it was more important to encourage the use of the public domain materials in our holdings than to impose roadblocks."

The immediate impetus for the new policy is Cornell’s donation of more than 70,000 digitized public domain books to the Internet Archive (details at www.archive.org/details/cornell).

"Imposing legally binding restrictions on these digital files would have been very difficult and in a way contrary to our broad support of open access principles," said Oya Y. Rieger, Associate University Librarian for Information Technologies. "It seemed better just to acknowledge their public domain status and make them freely usable for any purpose. And since it doesn't make sense to have different rules for material that is reproduced at the request of patrons, we have removed permission obligations from public domain works."

Institutional restrictions on the use of public domain work, sometimes labeled "copyfraud," have been the subject of much scholarly criticism. The Cornell initiative goes further than many other recent attempts to open access to public domain material by removing restrictions on both commercial and non-commercial use. Users of the public domain works are still expected to determine on their own that works are in the public domain where they live. They also must respect non-copyright rights, such as the rights of privacy, publicity, and trademark. The Library will continue to charge service fees associated with the reproduction of analog material or the provision of versions of files different than what is freely available on the Web. All library Web sites will be updated to reflect this new policy during 2009.

The new Cornell policy can be found at cdl.library.cornell.edu/guidelines.html.

ARL Releases Strategic Directions for the Federal Depository Library Program

The Association of Research Libraries has released Strategic Directions for the Federal Depository Library Program.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

The US Government Printing Office (GPO) is engaged in a strategic planning process regarding future directions for the FDLP. With GPO and the library community, the Depository Library Council to the Public Printer will be discussing the future needs and strategic vision of the FDLP at the upcoming Depository Library Council meeting in Tampa, Florida, beginning on April 20, 2009.

In support of the Depository Library Council’s request for community-wide input to the planning process, ARL has issued a white paper that notes:

the current FDLP strategic planning process should lead to a flexible, sustainable, reconfigured program that reflects the needs and interests of users of government information and participating libraries; embraces the digital networked environment; and importantly, encourages collaborative network-based services while ensuring a smooth and orderly transition to a new program framework. The underlying principles of the program should continue, in particular the long-standing principle of no-fee access to government information. The specifics of such a reconfigured program require more in-depth discussion. But such discussions cannot last another 20 years. The risk of missed opportunities and decreased viability is too high.

Carl Malamud Wants to Run the U.S. Government Printing Office, Techné Interviews Him

Open access activist Carl Malamud wants to be the Public Printer of the United States, and he has launched Yes We Scan! to support this effort. Techné recently interviewed him about his goal.

Here's an excerpt from the post:

Malamud: I think all my proposals [link added] would be a distinct change in direction or velocity. For example, reliance on bulk data/APIs and then a web site for Official Journals, moving the GPO towards the high-end of publishing with the Library of the USA, and creation of the Academy would all be big changes. And, you can bet their computer systems would get a scrubbing.

Public Domain Victory in Golan v. Holder

In a victory for public domain advocates, United States District Court Judge for the District of Colorado Lewis T. Babcock has ruled in Golan v. Holder (previously Golan v. Gonzales) that the restoration of copyright to certain foreign works formerly in the U.S public domain that resulted from Section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act violates the First Amendment.

Here's an excerpt from the ruling:

Congress has a legitimate interest in complying with the terms of the Berne Convention. The Berne Convention, however, affords each member nation discretion to restore the copyrights of foreign authors in a manner consistent with that member nation's own body of copyright law. In the United States, that body of law includes the bedrock principle that works in the public domain remain in the public domain. Removing works from the public domain violated Plaintiffs' vested First Amendment interests. In light of the discretion afforded it by the Berne Convention, Congress could have complied with the Convention without interfering with Plaintiffs' protected speech. Accordingly—to the extent Section 514 suppresses the right of reliance parties to use works they exploited while the works were in the public domain—Section 514 is substantially broader than necessary to achieve the Government's interest.

On the basis of the record before the Court, I conclude no evidence exists showing whether the Government's two additional justifications for implementing Section 514—Section 514 helps protect the copyright interests of United States authors abroad; and Section 514 corrects for historic inequities wrought on foreign authors who lost their United States copyrights through no fault of their own—constitute important Government interests, or whether Section 514 is narrowly tailored to meet those interests.

Read more about it in “Court Rules Part Of Copyright Act Unconstitutional” and “URAA Held Unconstitutional.”

Sony’s eBook Store to Offer Over a Half-Million Public Domain Books from Google

Sony's eBook store will offer over a half-million public domain e-books from Google.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

At Sony’s eBook store (ebookstore.sony.com), a button on the front page leads to the books from Google, which people can transfer to their PRS-505 or PRS-700 Reader at no cost. The process is seamless for Reader owners who have an account at the store. Those new to the store will need to set up an account and download Sony’s free eBook Library software. To start, people can access more than a half-million public domain books from Google, boosting the available titles from the eBook Store to more than 600,000. . . .

Books from Google will feature an extensive list of traditional favorites, including "The Awakening," "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court," and "Black Beauty," as well as a number of items that can be more difficult for people to access. For example, literature lovers can find and read The Letters of Jane Austen in addition to "Sense and Sensibility" and "Emma." Also included are a number of titles in French, German, Italian, Spanish and other languages. People can search the full text of the collection, or they can browse by subject, author, or featured titles.

The New Creative Commons License: CC0 1.0 Universal Lets Rights Holders Waive Their Rights

The Creative Commons has released CC0 1.0 Universal, the "no rights reserved" license.

Here's an excerpt from the CC0 FAQ:

Are CC0 and CC's Public Domain Dedication and Certification ("PDDC") the same?

No. PDDC was intended to serve two purposes—to allow copyright holders to "dedicate" a work to the public domain, and to allow people to "certify" a work as being in the public domain. Our experience with PDDC shows that having a single tool performing both of these functions can be confusing.

CC0 is a single purpose tool, designed to take on the dedication function PDDC has been performing, but in a more complete and legally robust way. CC0 is universal in its applicability, intended for use world-wide by anyone anywhere holding copyright or database interests in a work. PDDC is based on U.S. law, and the enforceability of its dedication function outside of the U.S. is not certain.

Read more about it at "CC0: Waiving Copyrights" and "Want to Waive Copyright? Creative Commons Has a Tool for You."