Bouncing around the backroads of rural Uganda is a four-wheel drive diesel van loaded with a PC, a laser printer, a paper cutter, and a hot-melt glue binding machine. That van, the Digital Bookmobile, will put 5,000 books into schools, homes and libraries in an impoverished area of Uganda.
"So where do all these books come from? First and foremost, from the public domain collections on the Internet Archive. The Archive boasts more than 30,000 public domain works freely available for download, printing and other uses. One hundred thousand works will be available by the end of 2004. In Uganda, classic books like "The Tale of Peter Rabbit," "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," and "The Wizard of Oz" are filling school libraries.
"In addition, the project is funding two scanning stations at the National Library offices in Kampala, where operators will scan AIDS education, farming improvement, adult literacy, and other materials for the Bookmobile to print. All these materials will also be made available on the Internet Archive."
They were showing off a version of this at the Creative Commons release party, Alex, if you'll remember. I'm personally terribly excited by the possibilities of this, both in nonprofit and profit forms (imagine if, for example, you could buy on-demand printed books at your local SuperBookStore, rather than having to buy them from Amazon.)
here's a neat keynote by brewster kahle at the LOC:
What worries me is what do the book publishing companies have to say about this?
It is a fantastic solution for Third World countries, and the public domain is a fantastic idea, but if you brought this to a commercial level then there would be piracy as with all the hullabaloo about Music and P2P sharing programs.
Wait a minute... you mean Alice in Wonderland is now on the public domain!? I love that book :-P
Things like this demonstrate why the world desperately needs the public domain, and why we all need to keep fighting against attempts to make copyright permanent.