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Alternative Approaches to Open Digital Libraries in the Shadow of the Google Book Search Settlement

An Open Workshop at Harvard Law School

July 31, 2009

Sponsored by the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, the Harvard Law School Library, and Professors Charles Nesson, John Palfrey and Phil Malone

Registration for in-person attendance is closed for this event, but we will be webcasting portions of the program and encourage those who are interested and unable to attend to participate remotely. Information on logistics, directions, etc., is at the bottom of this page. Social / remote participation tools are listed here. Plenary sessions for this event will be webcast live here. **Please note, the link will only be active and available during the scheduled Live broadcast.**

Scope and Goals

The proposed Google Book Search settlement creates the opportunity for unprecedented access by the public, scholars, libraries and others to a digital library containing millions of books assembled by major research libraries. But the settlement is controversial, in large part because this access is limited in major ways: instead of being truly open, this new digital library will be controlled by a single company, Google, and a newly created Book Rights Registry consisting of representatives of authors and publishers; it will include millions of so-called “orphan works” that cannot legally be included in any competing digitization and access effort, and it will be available to readers only in the United States. It need not have been this way.

This workshop seeks to bring a fresh, unique perspective to a complex and widely debated topic. It will focus not on the specific merits and demerits of the settlement itself, or the particular antitrust and privacy and other objections that have been raised. Instead, it will examine the idea of possible alternative universes and offer specific proposals for scenarios that may arise whether or not the settlement is approved. What can libraries, or universities, or non-profits, or Congress, do in the current landscape? And how might these possibilities help us to define a better world than the one that we have today and, more importantly, than the one that will exist if the Google settlement is approved in its current form? Regardless of what happens with respect to the Settlement, what alternative possibilities could lead to a richer, more open and better information ecosystem than the one we have today or might have tomorrow with the Settlement?

By exploring these alternatives, this workshop seeks, in the end, to help inform the debate over the Settlement and its terms and to illuminate some of the key policy considerations that are at stake. Its ultimate goal is to develop a series of options and proposals that could improve on the status quo in novel ways.

Harvard Law School Roundup and Summation of the Workshop:


8:00 a.m. – Registration and refreshments

8:30 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. -- Opening Remarks – Professor John Palfrey Webcast. **Please note, the link will only be active and available during the scheduled Live broadcast.**

8:45 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. – Session 1: Webcast. **Please note, the link will only be active and available during the scheduled Live broadcast.**

What opportunities are we missing with the GBS settlement? What might a truly “open” digital collection look like? What might it be if it were created or run by major libraries? What can we learn from the Open Content Alliance project/Internet Archive, the Human Knowledge Project, Project Gutenberg and others? What are the prospects for alternative digital library efforts in the shadow of the Google settlement, if it is approved? If it is modified? If it is not approved?

  • John Palfrey, Harvard Law School Library & Berkman Center
  • Siva Vaidhyanathan, University of Virginia
  • Maura Marx, Open Knowledge Commons

10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. – Break

10:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. - Perspective Webcast. **Please note, the link will only be active and available during the scheduled Live broadcast.**

  • Professor Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law School, "Settlements: Static goods, dynamic bads"

11:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – Session 2: Webcast. **Please note, the link will only be active and available during the scheduled Live broadcast.**

What might truly open access to orphan works look like? Would it be a public domain claim to open, fair and free use of orphan works? Orphan works legislation that lets other digital libraries offer access to orphan works? Opportunities for orphan works to move into the public domain or to be offered with Creative Commons or similar open licenses? What should be done with any revenues generated by orphan works under the Settlement or any equivalent? How well does the Settlement serve these goals, and what does it not do? What is the role of Congress in shaping this critical aspect of copyright policy? What would be the impact of the Settlement on the likelihood of orphan works legislation?

  • Phil Malone, Berkman Center
  • Jule Sigall, Microsoft (formerly U.S. Copyright Office, principal drafter "Report on Orphan Works")
  • James Grimmelman, New York Law School
  • Eric Saltzman, Creative Commons
  • Lewis Hyde, Berkman Center

12:15 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. – Group Lunch on your own at Harkness Commons (informal discussions continue)

1:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. – Pitches for attendee-proposed breakout sessions *not webcast*

1:45 – 3:00 p.m. –Breakout Sessions *not webcast*

Breakout 1 (Pound 200) – Privacy and censorship. How can we ensure that digital libraries maintain the same privacy norms and protections that non-digital libraries have worked so hard to build and preserve? What would be the necessary technological features for an online library to be able to replicate the anonymous reading and browsing that patrons largely enjoy in physical libraries? How do we ensure the combination of unrestricted access to information and no monitoring of use that characterize libraries today?

  • Marc Rotenberg, EPIC

Breakout 2 (Pound 204) – Open access for research and innovation: What might truly open access to an online digital library look like? What would be the most productive and open scenarios for researchers using an online research corpus for computational “non-consumptive” purposes? How might we best allow non-profit and for-profit rivals to build and offer innovative viewers, search functions, and other applications on top of an “open” database of scanned works?

  • Ethan Zuckerman, Berkman Center
  • Peter Suber, Berkman Center

Breakout 3 (Pound 102) – Libraries as consumers of the online digital library. How do we deal with concerns about pricing of content, and about the durability of digital content that is “rented” rather than owned?

  • John Palfrey, Harvard Law School Library & Berkman Center
  • Robert Darnton, Harvard University Library

Breakout 4 (Pound 101) - Google

  • Jon Orwant, Google Book Search Project

Additional breakout sessions to be determined by attendee proposals and interest. Additional space available in the lounge areas of Pound Hall, Harkness Commons, and Hauser Room 104.

3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. – Meet as a group to hear and discuss summaries of Breakout sessions Webcast. **Please note, the link will only be active and available during the scheduled Live broadcast.**

3:30 – 3:40 – Wrap-up and Concluding Remarks

Proposed Topics

Listed below are some of the topics that have been narrowed down into the final agenda. Any topic that not listed in the formal agenda is still open for proposing as an additional breakout session in the afternoon. To edit this wiki, you must register for an account via the link in the upper right hand corner of this page). For suggestions, please be sure to include your name and email address on the page so that others may contact you with similar ideas/further questions/suggestions.

  1. What might truly open access to orphan works look like
  2. What might a truly “open” digital collection created by major libraries look like
  3. What might a truly “open” global library look like
  4. What would a truly “open” digital library look like
  5. What might truly open access to and use of an online digital library look like
  6. What might online, digital publishing and access look like going forward
  7. Are all of these the same? Within the open environment what is closed?
  8. Intellectual Freedom = Unrestricted Access to Information + No Monitoring of Use (MarcEPIC)
  9. Payment of processing (author) fees to publishers of journals and monographs
  10. How could the proposed Google Books settlement change the landscape for alternative projects like the Internet Archive? How should such projects adapt so as to remain a viable alternative?
  11. How can we ensure that digital libraries maintain the same privacy protections that non-digital libraries have worked hard to build and preserve?
  12. Google’s Exclusion of Books (section 3.7(e) of the proposed settlement agreement)


Please add links to papers, articles, blogposts, and other items related to GBS and of interest to workshop participants to this page.

  • Siva Vaidhyanathan (The Googlization of Everything) talk at UNC on "The Human Knowledge Project" -- a proposal for a truly open, global, universal library system
  • Articles, blog posts, and other resources about the settlement tagged with at Connotea:
    • This tag was introduced in April 2009, and this tag library may omit many pieces published before that.

Upcoming Related Events

Registration and Participants

Registration is now full, but you can email to be alerted about any open seats that do open up.

If you wish for your name to be listed on the wiki in this section, please indicate your preference on the registration form. Registration to this event is free.

  1. John Palfrey, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  2. Phil Malone, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  3. Charles Nesson, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  4. Jennifer Gordon, Harvard Law School Library
  5. Michelle Pearse, Harvard Law School Library
  6. Mary Daniels, Francis Loeb Library / GSD
  7. Joey Mornin, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  8. Chris Peterson, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  9. Lewis Hyde, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  10. Harry Lewis, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  11. David Weinberger, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  12. Amar Ashar, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  13. Siva Vaidhyanathan,, University of Virginia
  14. Ines Zalduendo, Frances Loeb Library / Graduate School of Design
  15. Bill Comstock, Harvard College Library
  16. Mansooreh Saboori, Harvard Law School Library
  17. Dave Davis, Copyright Clearance Center
  18. Bethaney Henshaw, Millipore
  19. Abby Clowbridge, Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government Library
  20. Michael Hemment, Harvard College Library
  21. Constance Rinaldo, Ernst Mayr Library/MCZ/Harvard
  22. Martha Creedon, Harvard University Library Office for Information Systems
  23. James Grimmelmann New York Law School
  24. Sue Kriegsman, Harvard College Library
  25. Dee Magnoni Olin College of Engineering
  26. Wendy Seltzer, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  27. Hope Tillman,
  28. Walt Howe, Tillman & Howe
  29. Alexa McCray, Harvard Medical School
  30. Eric Saltzman, Creative Commons
  31. Judy Warnement, Botany Libraries/Harvard University Herbaria
  32. Noelle Ryan, Harvard University Library
  33. Patrick Tracy, Western New England College School of Law Library
  34. Michael Burstein, Harvard Law School
  35. Eugene Curry
  36. Douglas Newcomb, Special Libraries Association
  37. Carolina Rossini, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  38. Robert Darnton, Harvard University Library
  39. Marc Rotenberg, EPIC
  40. Marguerite Avery, MIT Press
  41. Meg Kribble, Harvard Law School Library
  42. Deborah Jackson Weiss, Harvard Law School Library
  43. Thomas Ma, Countway Library/Harvard Medical School
  44. Lorraine Lezama, Clarendon Group
  45. Beardsley Ruml, Consultant
  46. Monica Schieck, ECO/UFRJ
  47. Dr. Zulfiquar Ahmed, department of law and justice, university of RAJSHAHI
  48. Barbara Preece, Boston Library Consortium
  49. Eric Hellman, Gluejar, Inc
  50. Hillary Corbett, Northeastern University Libraries
  51. Liza Daly,
  52. Corinna Baksik, Harvard University Library
  53. Maura Marx, Open Knowledge Commons
  54. Amy Lewontin, Northeastern University Snell Library
  55. Michael Fisher, Harvard University Press/Editorial Director
  56. Charles McEnerney, Well-Rounded Radio + ArtsBoston
  57. Karen Nipps, Houghton Library, HCL
  58. Tom Demay, Kirtas Technologies
  59. Kuniko McVey, Harvard-Yenching library
  60. Leora Kornfield, Harvard Business School
  61. Randy Stern, Harvard University Library
  62. Nancy Leon, Suffolk University Law School
  63. Ozkan Kaya
  64. Mahat Somane, Harvard Kennedy School
  65. Nancy George, Salem State College
  66. Jennifer Casasanto, Harvard SEAS
  67. Rebecca Tabasky, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  68. John Deighton, Harvard Business School
  69. Mitchell Reich, Harvard Law School/Student
  70. Adam Holland, Berkman Center / BU School of Law
  71. Sam Bayard, Berkman Center for Internet & Society
  72. Antwuan Wallace, New School University
  73. Rebecca Yadegar
  74. Andrew Fong
  75. Sarah Cortes, InmanTechnologyITcom
  76. Karrie Peterson, Brandeis University
  77. Mary Murrell, University of California, Berkeley
  78. Rebecca Curtin, Harvard University, Department of English
  79. Ellen Duranceau, MIT Libraries
  80. Timothy Vollmer, American Library Association Office for Information Technology Policy
  81. Zach Newell, Salem State College
  82. Bill Nehring, MLIS Student - Simmons College
  83. Peter Suber, Berkman Center
  84. Leslie Morris, Houghton Library, Harvard University
  85. MacKenzie Smith, MIT Libraries
  86. Megan Sniffin-Marinoff, Harvard University Archives
  87. Jon Orwant, Google
  88. Jule Sigall, Microsoft
  89. Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law School

Location, Directions, Logistical Information, and Remote Participation Options