[okfn-help] Public domain work request service?

Jonathan Gray jonathan.gray at okfn.org
Sat Nov 7 18:43:56 GMT 2009

Dear Sören,

For ages I've been thinking about a simple web service that would
allow people to request an open digital copy of a work which has
fallen into the public domain, but may be hard to find (or which,
e.g., might only be publicly available in a non-open form). They and
others could pledge funds towards finding and digitising a work - and
anyone who can produce a (public domain) digital copy of the work,
would be rewarded with these funds.

The reason I've been thinking about this for ages is that there are
countless public domain works which I would like to get a digital copy
of - and which I would be willing to pay for, but which I have been
unable to locate. I guess this particularly makes sense for works of
which there may be limited physical copies - such as 78s, manuscripts,
old books, paintings and suchlike. Also in this case, it might be that
many copies physically accessible to the public cannot be digitally
copied for contractual reasons - hence one might be seeking a copy in
a private collection. It may also be that a painting is accessible and
freely copyable but thousands of miles away (e.g. in a library or
hanging in a gallery with no restrictions on making physical copies).

This could probably made into quite a fun service (for cultural object
hunters!) - and could even potentially be a good preservation strategy
for rare objects of interest to niche consumers (for want of a better

It recently occurred to me that the Cofundos code might be eminently
suitable for this purpose! What do you think?

(I hope you don't mind, but I'm carbon copying this to our okfn-help list...)

Jonathan Gray

Community Coordinator
The Open Knowledge Foundation

More information about the okfn-help mailing list