Open Content Alliance

Open Content Alliance logo.

The news is that Yahoo! announced they’ve formed the Open Content Alliance. Though that certainly fits the Google versus Yahoo! story that newsmen want to report on now, it’s somewhat disingenuous to the Internet Archive, which has been beating the Open Content drum for a while. But Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive doesn’t seem to care. He was talking about it on the Yahoo! Search Blog yesterday:

Is Open Content the next step in the traditions of Open Source and an Open Network? Many people seem to think so (and wouldn’t it be great?). Working with libraries, government institutions, archives, technology companies, web companies– and we all are saying the same thing– it is time to have more great material available on the Internet and to be able to have it be open and free.

The opportunity before all of us is living up to the dream of the Library of Alexandria and then taking it a step further– Universal access to all knowledge. Interestingly, it is now technically doable. Then the question became– is it in the interest of enough people and institutions to get there? Some hang-ups have been around costs, rights, and guidelines for sharing. All of these things were worked out for their domains by Internet folks and open source folks in the last few decades. But how are we going build a system that has everything available to everyone?

I am jazzed to say that a group of organizations is starting an Open Content Alliance to try out answers by joining new and existing collections. We are looking for more contributors and helpers. We are starting with a set of principles.

Google, of course, made news a while ago when they announced a plan to scan the entire collections of a few libraries in the US and Britain. But they’ve run up against some copyright problems lately and the future of that plan is in doubt, at least according to Siva Vaidhyanathan in his interview in last week’s On The Media.

It will be interesting to watch these two internet titans do battle. The competition does them both good, so long as it doesn’t kill them (or leave either one vulnerable to a buyout by Microsoft).