ocalogo.jpgHere’s our Mercury News story on the newly launched “Open Content Alliance,” a consortium of companies and other groups that want to make digital content freely available on the Web.

By the way, it is no surprise that this seems like everybody else vs. Google. We remember speaking with Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, expressing frustration that Google had never returned his calls (scroll to bottom) on his idea of launching such an open access project. Seems that Google has its own way, and Google’s approach seems more aggressively set on maintaining more control for itself. So Kahle obviously decided to work with Yahoo on this…

More info is…

available at http://www.open contentalliance.org.

A consortium backed by Yahoo has launched an ambitious effort to digitize classic books and technical papers and make them freely available on the Web.

One of the Open Content Alliance’s first projects will be to digitize the approximately 18,000-title collection of classic fiction and non-fiction American books owned by the University of California, the group said. That could be completed by the end of next year.

The consortium includes Adobe Systems, Hewlett-Packard Labs, the National Archives of the U.K., O’Reilly Media, the Prelinger Archives, the University of California and the University of Toronto.

The announcement of the consortium comes amid furious debate about a similar project called Google Library, in which the Mountain View tech giant is scanning and digitizing millions of books at select libraries.

Google’s effort differs, though, because it intends to digitize material regardless of its copyright status. The members of the Open Content Alliance say they will scan copyrighted material only if they have the permission of the rights-holders…

Update: More frustration expressed about Google here, by Project Gutenberg’s founder, Michael Hart.