“But the proposed [Google Books] settlement fell apart in March 2011 when the judge overseeing the case ruled that it was unfair to the authors and publishers on whose behalf it had been negotiated, and that it would give Google ‘a de facto monopoly over unclaimed works.’ The proposal went far beyond the issues in litigation, he concluded, addressing matters ‘more appropriately decided by Congress’ than through litigation.
“But the dream of a universal digital library lives on. Now a coalition of libraries and archives has come together to create a Digital Public Library of America to fulfill the original vision of a digital library for all. It could well be that an effort without commerce in the mix will have an easier time of it.
“A broad consensus already exists to remove copyright obstacles to orphan works. There is also growing interest in mass digitization of out-of-print works. The arguments for increased access are compelling: These books aren’t producing any revenue for copyright owners, and most of them are unlikely to be reprinted. Libraries already own copies of many of them and want to make them available digitally to their communities. And rights holders can always opt out of a library mass-digitization project.”
From Pamela Samuelson’s op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, A universal digital library is within reach