OCLC Gets Grabby

OCLC, a nonprofit organization created to allow everyone to use bibliographic information, now wants to lower the copyright boom and outlaw people using OCLC information! Wha?!

Apparently they also run WorldCat. A lot of universities and regional libraries put their catalogs up there, with the understanding that it would make it easier for folks to find books they need and make interlibrary loan requests. But now they’ve apparently decided that they want to make money off the thing, instead of just be useful, so everything vaguely similar must go.

A lot of people, for instance, have set up private-citizen catalogs, like LibraryThing. Obviously, WorldCat has no interest in knowing what paperbacks Bobby Sue owns; yet they want to stop them from using the proper catalog numbers.

But OCLC is on very shaky ground here. Copyright law is not particularly interested in protecting database collections of facts. So they’re trying to brute-force it by making people “agree” to a license provision. Not that people were informed, or allowed to opt out.

Typical stupidity. If they really want to make money off OCLC classification, do they really want to drive everyone to using ISBN numbers, and to making up ISBN numbers for earlier editions? But more to the point — US taxpayers and institutions are the ones who funded OCLC in the first place, on all sorts of levels. If money’s being made now, where’s our check?

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