digitization in Bodo 2015


uters thus added fresh momentum to the efforts of realizing the age-old dream of the universal
library (Battles, 2004). Digital technologies offered a breakthrough in many of the issues that previously
posed serious obstacles to text collection: storage, search, preservation, access have all become cheaper
and easier than ever before. On the other hand, a number of key issues remained unresolved: digitization
was a slow and cumbersome process, while the screen proved to be too inconvenient, and the printer too
costly an interface between the text file and the reader. In any case, ultimately it wasn’t these issues that
put a break to the proliferation of digital libraries. Rather, it was the realization, that there are legal limits
to the digitization, storage, distribution of copyrighted works on the digital networks. That realization
soon rendered many text collections in the emerging digital library scene inaccessible.
Legal considerations did not destroy this chaotic, emergent digital librarianship and the collections the adhoc, accidental and professional librarians put together. The text collections were far too valuable to
simply delete


phers
and anonymous ftp servers turned into closed, membership only ftp servers, local shared libraries residing
on the intranets of various academic, business institutions and private archives stored on local hard drives.
The early digital libraries turned into book piracy sites and into the kernels of today’s shadow libraries.
Libraries and other major actors, who decided to start large scale digitization programs soon needed to
find out that if they wanted to avoid costly lawsuits, then they had to limit their activities to work in the
public domain. While the public domain is riddled with mind-bogglingly complex and unresolved legal
issues, but at least it is still significantly less complicated to deal with than copyrighted and orphan works.
Legally more innovative, (or as some would say, advent


adow library services which offers the books in
Aleph’s catalogue as well as other works also free and without any restraints or limitations.

9

Bodó B. (2015): Libraries in the post-scarcity era.
in: Porsdam (ed): Copyrighting Creativity: Creative values, Cultural Heritage Institutions and Systems of Intellectual Property, Ashgate

scarcity in physical copies is overcome through distributed digitization; the artificial source of scarcity
created by copyright protection is overcome through infringement. The liberation from both constraints is
necessary to create a truly scarcity free environment and to release the potential of the library in the postscarcity age.
Aleph is also an ongoing demonstration of the fact that under the condition of non-scarcity, the library can
be a decentralized, distrib


ar situation, both in terms of the narrowly defined exceptions in which libraries
can operate, and the huge uncertainty regarding the limits of fair use in the digital library context. US
rights holders challenged both Google’s (Authors Guild v Google) and the libraries (Authors Guild v
HathiTrust) rights to digitize copyrighted works. While there seems to be a consensus of courts that the
mass digitization conducted by these institutions was fair use (Diaz, 2013; Rosati, 2014c; Samuelson,
2014), the accessibility of the scanned works is still heavily limited, subject to licenses from publishers,
the existence of print copies at the library and the institutional membership held by prospective readers.
While in the highly competitive US e-book market many commercial intermediaries offer e-lending
6

T


n the informal sphere to fill in the void left
behind by libraries.

What can Aleph teach us about the future of libraries?
The story of Aleph offers two, closely interrelated considerations for the debate on the future of libraries:
a legal and an organizational one. Aleph operates beyond the limits of legality, as almost all of its
activities are copyright infringing, including the unauthorized digitization of books, the unauthorized
mass downloads from e-text repositories, the unauthorized acts of uploading books to the archive, the
unauthorized distribution of books, and, in most countries, the unauthorized act of users’ downloading
books from the archive. In the debates around copyright infringement, illegality is usually interpreted as a
necessary condition to access works for free. While this


r produced library is the difference
between the actual costs associated with Aleph, and the investment that would be required to create
something remotely similar.

15

Bodó B. (2015): Libraries in the post-scarcity era.
in: Porsdam (ed): Copyrighting Creativity: Creative values, Cultural Heritage Institutions and Systems of Intellectual Property, Ashgate

The decentralized, collaborative mass digitization and making available of current, thus most relevant
scientific works is only possible at the moment through massive copyright infringement. It is debatable
whether the copyrighted corpus of scientific works should be completely open, and whether the blatant
disregard of copyrights through which Aleph achieved this openness is the right path towards a more
openly accessible body of scientific knowl


ledge Society. (2010). The Public Libraries in the
Knowledge Society. Copenhagen: Kulturstyrelsen.
Darnton, R. (1982). The literary underground of the Old Regime. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University
Press.
Darnton, R. (2003). The Science of Piracy: A Crucial Ingredient in Eighteenth-Century Publishing.
Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century, 12, 3–29.
Diaz, A. S. (2013). Fair Use & Mass Digitization: The Future of Copy-Dependent Technologies after
Authors Guild v. Hathitrust. Berkeley Technology Law Journal, 23.
Directive 2001/29/EC on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the
information society. (2001). Official Journal L, 167, 10–19.
Elst, M. (2005). Copyright, freedom of speech, and cultural policy in the Russian Federation.
Leiden/Boston: Martinus Nijh


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Rosati, E. (2014c). Google Books’ Library Project is fair use. Journal of Intellectual Property Law &
Practice, 9(2), 104–106.
Rose, M. (1993). Authors and owners : the invention of copyright. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University
Press.
Samuelson, P. (2002). Copyright and freedom of expression in historical perspective. J. Intell. Prop. L.,
10, 319.
Samuelson, P. (2014). Mass Digitization as Fair Use. Communications of the ACM, 57(3), 20–22.
Schultz, M. F. (2007). Copynorms: Copyright Law and Social Norms. Intellectual Property And
Information Wealth v01, 1, 201.
Sezneva, O. (2012). The pirates of Nevskii Prospekt: Intellectual property, piracy and institutional
diffusion in Russia. Poetics, 40(2), 150–166.
Solly, E. (1885). Henry Hills, the Pirate Printer. Antiquary, xi, 151

 

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