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Last Updated: Monday, 3 October 2005, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
Yahoo backs digital library plan
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National archive material will be included in the collection
Yahoo is taking on Google with its own digital archive of books, audio and video.

As part of the Open Content Alliance, Yahoo will help digitise 18,000 works of American literature plus material from national and European archives.

It hopes to avoid the legal action that has dogged Google's plan by adopting an opt-in policy on copyrighted works.

The Authors Guild is suing Google over its plan to digitise books and make them viewable without prior permission.

Reading room

As well as Yahoo, the Open Content Alliance also includes the non-profit Internet Archive, libraries from the universities of California and Toronto, Adobe and Hewlett-Packard.

The information to be digitised will include books, speeches, audio, video and music.

The Open Content Alliance said it would start with works that were in the public domain as well as those books in copyright that their owners were happy to be freely browsable online.

"We are only including copyrighted content with the express permission of the copyright holder," said David Mandelbrot, Yahoo's vice president of search content.

The core of the Open Content Alliance library will be 18,000 classic works of American literature that include writing by Mark Twain, Henry James and Edgar Allan Poe.

Currently Britain's National Archive and the European Archive are deciding what material to contribute to the project.

The end result will be a huge online collection freely available to web users. The first works to be digitised should be online by the end of the year and all 18,000 works should be available through the net by the close of 2006.

By contrast to Alliance's "opt-in" policy, Google's rival digital plan has adopted an "opt-out" approach that will digitise all works in several libraries, mainly university libraries from Harvard, Stanford and Michigan, unless copyright owners object.

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