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قراءة كتاب Project Gutenberg (1971-2008)

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Project Gutenberg (1971-2008)

Project Gutenberg (1971-2008)

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He gave a lecture on February 12, 2004 at UNESCO (United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) headquarters in
Paris. He chaired a discussion at the French National Assembly on February 13.
The following week, he addressed the European Parliament, in Brussels. He also
met with the team of Project Rastko, in Belgrade, to support the creation of
Distributed Proofreaders Europe (launched in December 2003) and Project
Gutenberg Europe (launched in January 2004).

The launching of Distributed Proofreaders Europe (DP Europe) by Project Rastko was indeed a very important step. DP Europe uses the software of the original Distributed Proofreaders and is dedicated to the proofreading of books for Project Gutenberg Europe. Since its very beginnings, DP Europe has been a multilingual website, with its main pages translated into several European languages by volunteer translators. DP Europe was available in 12 languages in April 2004 and 22 languages in May 2008.

The long-term goal is 60 languages and 60 linguistic teams representing all the European languages. When it gets up to speed, DP Europe will provide books for several national and/or linguistic digital libraries, for example Projet Gutenberg France for France. The goal is for every country to have its own digital library (according to the country copyright limitations), within a continental network (for France, the European network) and a global network (for the whole planet).

A few lines now on Project Rastko, which launched such a difficult and exciting project for Europe, and catalysed volunteers' energy in both Eastern and Western Europe (and anywhere else: as the internet has no boundaries, there is no need to live in Europe to register). Founded in 1997, Project Rastko is a non-governmental cultural and educational project. One of its goals is the online publishing of Serbian culture. It is part of the Balkans Cultural Network Initiative, a regional cultural network for the Balkan peninsula in south-eastern Europe.

In May 2005, Distributed Proofreaders Europe finished processing its 100th eBook. In June 2005 Project Gutenberg Europe was launched with these first 100 books. PG Europe operates under "life +50" copyright laws. DP Europe supports Unicode to be able to proofread books in numerous languages. Created in 1991 and widely used since 1998, Unicode is an encoding system that gives a unique number for every character in any language, contrary to the much older ASCII that was meant only for English and a few European languages.

On August 3, 2005, 137 books were completed (processed through the site and posted to Project Gutenberg Europe), 418 books were in progress (processed through the site but not yet posted, because currently going through their final proofreading and assembly), and 125 books were being proofread (currently being processed). On May 10th, 2008, 496 books were completed, 653 books were in progress and 91 books were being proofread.

6. PUBLIC DOMAIN VS. COPYRIGHT

As stated in the Project Gutenberg FAQ, "the public domain is the set of cultural works that are free of copyright, and belong to everyone equally", i.e. that books that can be digitized to be freely available on the internet. But the task of Project Gutenberg isn't made any easier by the increasing restrictions to the public domain. In former times, 50% of works belonged to the public domain, and could be freely used by everybody. A much tougher legislation was set in place over the centuries, step by step, especially during the 20th century, despite our so-called "information society". In 2100, 99% of works might be governed by copyright, with a meager 1% for public domain.

In the Copyright HowTo section, Project Gutenberg presents its own rules for confirming the public domain status of books according to US copyright laws. Here is a summary. Works published before 1923 entered the public domain no later than 75 years from the copyright date. (All these works are now in the public domain.) Works published between 1923 and 1977 retain copyright for 95 years. (No such works will enter the public domain until 2019.) Works created from 1978 on enter the public domain 70 years after the death of the author if the author is a natural person. (Nothing will enter the public domain until 2049.) Works created from 1978 on enter the public domain 95 years after publication (or 120 years after creation) if the author is a corporate one. (Nothing will enter the public domain until 2074.) Other rules apply too. The copyright law was amended 11 times between 1976 and now.

Much more restrictive than the previous one, the current legislation became effective after the promulgation of amendments to the 1976 Copyright Act, dated October 27th, 1998. As explained by Michael Hart in July 1999: "Nothing will expire for another 20 years. We used to have to wait 75 years. Now it is 95 years. And it was 28 years (+ a possible 28 year extension, only on request) before that, and 14 years (+ a possible 14 year extension) before that. So, as you can see, this is a serious degrading of the public domain, as a matter of continuing policy."

These amendments were a major blow for digital libraries and deeply shocked their founders, beginning with Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg in 1971, and John Mark Ockerbloom, founder of The Online Books Page in 1993. But how were they to measure up to the major publishing companies?

Michael wrote in July 1999: "No one has said more against copyright extensions than I have, but Hollywood and the big publishers have seen to it that our Congress won't even mention it in public. The kind of copyright debate going on is totally impractical. It is run by and for the 'Landed Gentry of the Information Age.' 'Information Age'? For whom?"

John wrote in August 1999: "I think it's important for people on the web to understand that copyright is a social contract that's designed for the public good — where the public includes both authors and readers. This means that authors should have the right to exclusive use of their creative works for limited times, as is expressed in current copyright law. But it also means that their readers have the right to copy and reuse the work at will once copyright expires. In the US now, there are various efforts to take rights away from readers, by restricting fair use, lengthening copyright terms (even with some proposals to make them perpetual) and extending intellectual property to cover facts separate from creative works (such as found in the "database copyright" proposals). There are even proposals to effectively replace copyright law altogether with potentially much more onerous contract law."

The political authorities continually speak about an information age while tightening the laws relating to the dissemination of information. The contradiction is obvious. This problem has also affected Australia (forcing Project Gutenberg of Australia to withdraw dozens of books from its collections) and several European countries. In a number of countries, the rule is now life of the author plus 70 years, instead of life plus 50 years, following pressure from content owners, with the subsequent "harmonization" of national copyright laws as a response to the "globalization of the market".

But there is still hope for some books published after 1923. According to Greg Newby, director of PGLAF (Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation), one million books published between 1923 and 1964 could also belong to the public domain, because only 10% of copyrights were actually renewed. Project Gutenberg tries to locate these books. In April 2004, with the help of hundreds of volunteers at Distributed Proofreaders, all Copyright Renewal records were posted for books from 1950

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