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Library>> Digital • The US

Published: Monday 30 November -0001

imageA photograph of one of the first hot air balloon flights; an 1833 map of the US showing an eagle “sitting atop the nation” and several accounts of the lives of the Native Americans during the 19th century. All these can now be accessed at the click of a mouse. Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), a non-profit initiative to create a large-scale public digital library, opened its virtual doors in April. DPLA has been in the works for the past two years, gathering together some 2.4 million items—books, photographs, manuscripts, arts and maps—from the country’s libraries, archives, and museums, and making them available at for free.

However, the main hurdle it faces is copyright—just as Google did for its plans to digitise books for Google Book Search. “Copyright is the biggest point of friction, particularly for books” Dan Cohen, executive director of the project, told The Guardian. “Everything before 1923 is in the public domain, and from 1923 on you start running into barriers,” he said. “We want authors and publishers to make money. But a vast majority of books make most of their money in the first five years... there might be ways to get more of those authors into public sphere,” Cohen said.

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