Norway To Digitize All Norwegian Books, Allowing Domestic IP Addresses To Read All Of Them, Irrespective Of Copyright Status

Here’s a pretty amazing story from Norway:

The National Library of Norway is planning to digitize all the books by the mid 2020s. Yes. All. The. Books. In Norwegian, at least. Hundreds of thousands of them. Every book in the library’s holdings.

Now, in any normal country — where “normal” means one in which copyright has reached the heights of monopolistic insanity — if those books were still under copyright, the digitized versions (assuming publishers even allowed them to be made in the first place) would probably only be available in a specially constructed room deep in the basement of the National Library on a (small) screen, and with guards stationed either side of it to ensure that no unauthorized copies were made. Here, by contrast, is what’s happening with the National Library of Norway’s digital collection:

If you happen to be in Norway, as measured by your IP address, you will be able to access all 20th-century works, even those still under copyright. Non-copyrighted works from all time periods will be available for download.

As Alexis C. Madrigal points out in his entertaining article for The Atlantic, there’s a rather interesting consequence of the different approaches to book digitization taken by Norway and the US, say:

Imagine digital archaeologists coming across the remains of early 21st century civilization in an old data center on the warming tundra. They look around, find some scraps of Buzzfeed and The Atlantic, maybe some Encyclopaedia Britannicas, and then, gleaming in the data: a complete set of Norwegian literature.

Suddenly, the Norwegians become to 27th-century humans what the Greeks were to the Renaissance. Everyone names the children of the space colonies Per and Henrik, Amalie and Sigrid. The capital of our new home planet will be christened Oslo.

This is what excessive copyright does to countries that impose it. It not only prevents today’s artists from building on the work of their recent forebears — something that occurred routinely until intellectual monopolies were introduced in recent centuries — but it even jeopardizes the preservation and transmission of entire cultures because of publishers’ refusal to allow copyright to move with the times by permitting large-scale digitization and distribution of the kind envisaged in Norway.



Link to full article


1 thought on “Norway To Digitize All Norwegian Books, Allowing Domestic IP Addresses To Read All Of Them, Irrespective Of Copyright Status

  1. I found this really interesting! Copyright law can be very irritating when trying to have your main focus on making knowledge universally attainable, however it is still needed because of other factors such as the protection of a company or author when trying to publish their works. I do not like how Norway is making this acceptable to everyone that is only in Norway, however I do see how this can be a good start to lead into more. If we can get more countries to do this then a great next step would be to try to put all of this information online and create a search system that can act as a directory for all of this information. I feel like this is what the internet was supposed to be meant for, to basically integrate and share all of the worlds knowledge in one easy to use directory that is universally available to everyone on the planet.

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