May 28, 2022

New by Dan Cohen: "The Fight Over the Future of Digital Books"

“The Fight Over the Future of Digital Books” is a new article on the The Atlantic web site, by Dan Cohen, winner of the 2011 Kilgour Award from OCLC and director of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University (the people who bring us Zotero and many other cool tools/resources).

From the Article:

Authors Guild v. HathiTrust is a strange legal twist. For an association of professional writers, the Guild seems to have forgotten some of the basic principles of its craft, such as not placing sympathetic figures like librarians in the role of villains. Almost comically, the Guild’s press release trumpeting its lawsuit against HathiTrust augurs a dark day in the not-too-distant future when old works, including obscure Yiddish texts, are “abducted” and “released” to thousands of students and professors.

One senses that the Authors Guild understands that librarians make for worse antagonists than an Internet giant. The Guild hasn’t asked for millions of dollars in damages from HathiTrust, as it has from Google — merely the unplugging of its vast digital library. (The Guild may also realize that state institutions like the University of Michigan have strong legal protections.) In a ham-fisted attempt to pluck the public’s heartstrings, their lawyers added a few plaintiffs from central casting: a poet, a Shakespeare scholar, a children’s-book writer and illustrator.

Read the Complete Article

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.