Publishers and authors reacted favorably to last week's announcement that Yahoo, the Internet Archive and a host of other partners are embarking on a book scanning project dubbed the Open Content Alliance. Although many of the details about the OCA—including what the commercial applications for the initiative may be—are still to be worked out, the project drew praise for its commitment to scan only public-domain works and copyrighted materials for which permissions have been already cleared. Author's Guild executive director Paul Aiken said that while the Guild hasn't been able to review the details "it looks like they're trying to do it the right way." Publishers' comments fell along similar lines.
Brewster Kahle, a founder of the Internet Archive, which will administer the OCA, said that while he doesn't know how OCA will evolve, one of the early goals "is to find out who can do what online." Kahle hopes to be able to develop a critical mass of materials online that will include some that will be available for free to the public, supported by materials that will be sold. "Books for free and for a fee," Kahle said.
He hopes that if all parts of publishing are brought into the OCA, it will "avoid a balkanized world" online. If parties are working at cross-purposes, Kahle said, the process of "learning where the online market is" will be slowed. He acknowledged that it is unclear at the moment how publishers can make money online, but said by participating in OCA, "when the time comes for money to be made, publishers will be there."