Universal Access to All Knowledge (and other ambitions)

I got a chance to say hello again to Brewster Kahle a couple of days ago. The last time we met was in the early 1990s, during the Cambrian Explosion phase of the Web. This was when alternative protocols like Gopher and his WAIS still roamed the Internet.
I’ve used and appreciated the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine but hadn’t fully grokked the breadth of the his vision around providing access not just to the Web per se but also to books and other texts. This is a worthy project that truly merits the community’s assistance.
Brewster is also pushing the envelope on the legal front of copyright doctrine. As I see it, even though DRM is now common in the audio world, and iTunes is a $500M+ business for Apple, this licensed content model couldn’t gain a mass market until “open” MP3 audio had become widely utilized. Most law-abiding users iPods have many more MP3s ripped from their CDs (fair use), than FairPlay AAC files bought on iTunes. IMO we need to (metaphorically speaking) establish the MP3 for e-Books. Open access to a body of uncopyrighted texts is a key piece of that puzzle.
My touchpoint for the legal issues in enabling mainstream adoption of e-Books, including parallels and non-parallels with other media types, is Clifford Lynch’s seminal paper The Battle to Define the Future of the Book in the Digital World. Long, but definitely recommended reading.