What would need to happen, in terms of legislation, before DPLA could become a reality?

Well, I’m not a lawyer; my colleagues could wax much more eloquently on this. But generally speaking, certainly we need to be able to provide access to things that are truly orphaned. We need to know that we’re not going to be sued because we provide access to something that has no locatable rights holder. We also need a way to tease out the different layers of content: there’s Mickey Mouse and Harry Potter, and then there’s the book that was written by an academic five years ago, that they would be delighted to have someone read. You know, it’s out of print, it’s not going to make any more revenue, really. So can we not find a way to change the one-size-fits-all nature of copyright, so that the scholarly publishing community can do what it was supposed to do, which was to spread knowledge and increase scholarship? It was not supposed to just publish books that would be locked up for the next lifetime plus seventy years, that no one would be able to locate in an onine environment, much less read or analyze?

But then what would this mean for the authors of content that’s still current, still under copyright, and would still be making money on its own? Would those types of content not be included in the DPLA?

Many are already being included through your public library, through a company called “Overdrive,” that provides access to in-copyright digital books: you download them and then they disappear in two weeks, for instance. But no one—I can say that with one hundred thousand percent certainty—no one at this meeting was ever advocating for rights-holders to be in any way slighted or disadvantaged. Everyone supports copyright and its purpose, in creating an environment where innovation can thrive, where creators are rewarded for their creation. Everyone is clear that that should be a vital part of the DPLA.

On the user end, would access to the DPLA be free to everyone? Or is that still up for discussion?

That’s the ideal, I think. But I don’t know how things will look, because you may have different tiers of content. For example, I, as a citizen of Cambridge and of Massachusetts I have access to the overdrive database through my Boston library card, and there are things I have access to because of where I live. Then add to that that I have access to other materials because I am part of an academic community. So I could see the DPLA having a similar tiered access mechanism.

Then there are different types of content: there’s content that’s wide open in the public domain that has no restrictions on access and then there’s another type that is in the scholarly arena and has a short period of generating revenue, after which it might become more broadly available, then there’s the “Disney” type of content that would have to be paid for, either on the front end or the back end. But again, who knows. There’s a lot of work that’s going to be done on this, so I can’t say at this point.

Has there been any discussion about the inclusion of news products? Such as current or archived magazines or newspapers?

Yes, we had the National Digital Newspaper project here. Because, again, no one wants to create some dusty vat of stuff that no one wants to look at. Newspaper content is another highly requested chunk of content. So, yes, we’re definitely thinking about that.

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Lauren Kirchner is a freelance writer covering digital security for CJR. Find her on Twitter at @lkirchner