Saturday, August 25, 2007

More free online books!

Questia Media has decided to offer their online library of more than 5,000 public-domain books to the public for free! These works include Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Jane Eyre, Tarzan of the Apes, and The Mayor of Casterbridge, as well as a free online encyclopedia and many, many academic and scholarly works (on artists, architecture, business, etc.).

I love that public domain materials can be made available so easily! One of the reasons that copyright extension annoys me is that it is so important for a wide variety of creative materials to come into the public domain and be freely available to the public. Researchers can take advantage of the works without needing to get permission to use them (in many cases no one can even locate the copyright holder, but without that permission, the user is out of luck). Artists can use works as a springboard for other creative endeavors (think of Wicked and all the wonderful fairy and folktale retellings). Because of copyright extensions, the pool of available public domain works is growing old and stagnant, with no "fresh blood" being added - not, I believe, the original intent of copyright laws.

Before I get off my soapbox, here is an interesting link if you want to know more about the public domain and some of the works that should have gone into that quickly growing-stagnant pool but didn't (mainly because Disney did not want to lose rights to Mickey Mouse and the other characters - understandable, but the copyright extension has had far-reaching consequences as a result). And if you are a glutton for punishment, here is a good article on copyright law and the consequences of the extension.


  1. I also love the fact that public domain books are made available online - especially when it comes to rare or out of print books I wouldn't otherwise have the chance to read.

  2. I totally agree, nymeth - I browsed through the books they are offering, and many are books I'd certainly have never seen otherwise!


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