Is the End Approaching for Commercial Metadata Vendors?

April 26, 2012

This is a very interesting move, one that may have implications for the organizations which sell library metadata. Joho the Blog reports, “‘Big Data for Books’: Harvard Puts Metadata for 12M Library Items into the Public Domain.” We learn from the write up:

Harvard University has today put into the public domain (CC0) full bibliographic information about virtually all the 12M works in its 73 libraries. This is (I believe) the largest and most comprehensive such contribution. The metadata, in the standard MARC21 format, is available for bulk download from Harvard. The University also provided the data to the Digital Public Library of America’s prototype platform for programmatic access via an API. The aim is to make rich data about this cultural heritage openly available to the Web ecosystem so that developers can innovate, and so that other sites can draw upon it.”

Wow. Now, Harvard does ask users to respect community norms, like attributing sources of metadata. Blogger David Weinberger notes that licensing issues have held up the release of library metadata, and that this move makes the metadata of many, many of the most- used library items accessible.

What will happen next? Will the sellers of library metadata fight back?

Cynthia Murrell, April 26, 2012

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