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Wikipedia's $100 Million Dream

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the omg-free-kermit dept.

560

An anonymous reader writes "Jimmy Wales recently asked the Wikipedia community to suggest useful, 'works that could in theory be purchased and freed' assuming a 'budget of $100 million to purchase copyrights.' He went on to say that he has spoken with a person 'who is potentially in a position to make this happen.' Ideas are being collected at the meta-wiki. Some early suggestions include, satellite imagery, textbooks, scientific journals and photo archives." So how about it? What works would you like to see wikified?

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The Penguin Classics Library (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539652)

I think that this [amazon.com] would be a good target as far as literature is concerned. I know that this costs ~$8k on Amazon so the copyrights are probably worth a lot but I think that a lot of these titles are public domain. If they are, I think it would be worth making a proposition in the millions to Penguin for their editions to be made available on the Wiki. I'm a computer scientist so I don't know how realistic this would be. Of course, they could probably host Project Gutenberg [gutenberg.org] for free if they wanted.

As far as educational works go, I'm all for the textbooks. Grade school & high school, of course. But what I'd really like to see is the "Canonical works" of each field. I'm talking about the standard books that are used to teach each major in the United States. They could do a survey of books and then attempt to contact the authors & publishers to work a deal. Some titles I've seen on everyone's shelves are, of course, the Donald Knuth [amazon.com] series and this list [amazon.com] has a lot of standards I recognize just by the covers.

The most important thing for them to do would to pay lawyers and literature experts to scan the internet for potential authors willing to put out books for free. I've seen some classic computer science books go up like this and I'm sure that if Wikipedia asked for permission to host, they would be able to with mild restrictions. Like the author having the final say on what is kept and removed from the Wiki page. I mean, look at O'Reilly's OpenBook Project [oreilly.com] , don't you think they would allow Wikipedia to host that for a tiny one time fee? I'd bet that sales would increase if they even put a link to buy the book. I've heard a lot of authors argue for their books to be put online so that people will feel compelled to buy a hardcopy. Wasn't that the point of Google's textbook preview search?

Other people they could target is an open invitation to any estates that own the rights of long dead authors to have their ancestor's works published. Dr. Suess, anyone? I mean, how do you license a loved one's works and continually soak up money for them? To me, the work of Disney in this respect is just plain rotten and ruined some good guidelines to release works to the public domain.

I don't know, I just think that they should spend money over a period of time searching for permission to host books for free or nearly free. I have hope that this is done very very well and augments the OLPC project nicely.

Re:The Penguin Classics Library (5, Interesting)

Extide (1002782) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539700)

I'd like to see some stuff like repair manuals for cars, exloded parts drawings, etc. That stuff can be hard to find sometimes, as its always copywrited. How would this work though, if they buy copywrited material is it just OK for them to post it up for free for everyone?

Re:The Penguin Classics Library (5, Informative)

BostonVaulter (867329) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539880)

"I'd like to see some stuff like repair manuals for cars, exloded parts drawings, etc. That stuff can be hard to find sometimes, as its always copywrited. How would this work though, if they buy copywrited material is it just OK for them to post it up for free for everyone?" They would be buying the copywrights, not juse a copywrighted work. Once they own the copywrights, then they control the work. So then they can post it up in it's entirety for the rest of the world to enjoy and learn from.

Re:The Penguin Classics Library (4, Interesting)

Instine (963303) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540228)

These are great ideas (though I don't like the US bias :| ). But! $100M is a lot of money. It'll earn you a lot of annual interest. And academic books become dated quickly. Wouln't it be wize to buy updated copy each year, than as much as you possibly could all at once?

Re:The Penguin Classics Library (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16539752)

I know that this costs ~$8k on Amazon so the copyrights are probably worth a lot but I think that a lot of these titles are public domain.

Homer, Virgil, Euripides, Sun Tzu, Chaucer-- yeah, I think a few of those might be off copyright already.

Re:The Penguin Classics Library (4, Funny)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539804)

Don't worry, Disney's trying to fix that.

Re:The Penguin Classics Library (4, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540024)

Homer, Virgil, Euripides, Sun Tzu, Chaucer-- yeah, I think a few of those might be off copyright already.

No, they aren't. The texts of those works derived from manuscripts--in series like the Teubner texts or the Oxford Classical Texts--are often still under copyright, and many translations into English are still copyright. One is either dependent on Victorian-era stuff, or one has to translate the material himself (and distribute only the translation, since the text may be copyright).

Re:The Penguin Classics Library (4, Informative)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540236)

The most popular English translations of ye olde publishing standbye - The Holy Bible - are covered by copyright in various jurisdictions. The Revised Standard Version and New International Version (two pillars of the modern English market) are both new enough to be under copyright, as are all of the heavily-paraphrased versions (e.g. Living Bible). Even the King James Version is under crown copyright in the UK. The most "modern" translations in the Public Domain are generally deprecated versions such as the (un-Revised) American Standard Version.

Re:The Penguin Classics Library (-1, Flamebait)

gerrysteele (927030) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540292)

> Even the King James Version is under crown copyright in the UK It's a good thing the bible is a nonsensical curiosity that isn't worth the paper it is printed on then.

Re:The Penguin Classics Library (4, Informative)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540040)

Homer, Virgil, Euripides, Sun Tzu, Chaucer-- yeah, I think a few of those might be off copyright already.

The translations aren't. For out-of-copyright versions, you still have to go back to versions published a century ago, where the translations are uniformly full of "thou"s and "thee"s and written in bad verse more incomprehensible than the original languages. In fact even modern critical editions of the texts in their original languages are under copyright.

Re:The Penguin Classics Library (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16539872)

Textbooks is a really great idea. Currently I have to spend a lot of money on course books and I imagine there are lots of people that cant spend this kind of money on books (forexample, someone in africa). So free high-quality "mother of all" "books" in all possible fields/subjects is very important! Some kind of "complete collection of all human knowledge"-webpage. Released on the internet, with space for discussions next to each chapter (where visitors can help eachother understand the subject), wiki-articles on each chapter with FAQ:s, etc, translations done by the community, etc.

Something else to go with these "books" would be high quality lectures by some of the best lecturers in respective field.

Free "books" and lectures would allow anyone anywhere, that just have access to the internet, to learn whatever he/she want.

(Another wish would be to "liberate" all papers ever written and put those on a nice website)

Copyright clearing-house online... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16540068)

For sure there are plenty works still under copyrights that are almost monetarily worthless, yet have many years to go before falling into the public domain. They will remain where they are as there is no reason for the copyright holder to give them up.

However..... if a copyright holder is made an offer for a given piece ($1,000, $10,000, whatever) - a very straightfoward commercial decision can be made; One free of copyright religion and politics. "Is the future returns on the copyright of this piece worth less than the offer."

Someone who has a copyrighted item earning $12.50 per year might easily be swayed to release it into the public domain for $200. Almost *nothing* under copyright is actually earning any real money, and thefore may be liberated with a very modest purse.

Perhaps if there was a simple online process in place, individuals could seach for their items of choice, pay up and free them.

Most people that have the cash and some inclination simply don't have the time. If those who have the time could make this process trivial, everyone could win.

Now please excuse me - I have to RTFA

Re:The Penguin Classics Library (1)

chaoticgeek (874438) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540104)

I know what you mean. If I see a good book online and I can read through it if I find it good I'll go buy a copy. I like to know what I'm buying before I drop the cash on it. I always love hardcopy of books too. If I have the choice I'll take the hard copy over a PDF.

Re:The Penguin Classics Library (3, Insightful)

ssyladin (458003) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540148)

As far as educational works go, I'm all for the textbooks. Grade school & high school, of course. But what I'd really like to see is the "Canonical works" of each field. I'm talking about the standard books that are used to teach each major in the United States.

Here here! I'm sick and tired of seeing editions 7 through 15 of the same calculus book, where the only "improvement" are the renumbering of the problems in a section, and maybe a few new ones. This subject matter is so standardized by now that there is no reason to charge the public school system or 1st year college students $105 for a textbook that gets forcibly outdated so the publisher can make more money.

How about the original Mickey Mouse cartoon? (4, Interesting)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539674)

Maybe without that incentive, Disney will stop lobbying for copyright extensions? That way we can actually make use of all this material again.

Re:How about the original Mickey Mouse cartoon? (1)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539954)

Yes and no... if you do that, you're just legitimizing their copyright claim, and they may just milk other things for more money later.

Book one. (3, Interesting)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539696)

o/^ Write for us a trilogy, a four- or five-book trilogy... o/^

I wonder how many people might get drawn into reading sequels if the first book in a series or trilogy were made available for free?

Re:Book one. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16539794)

The Baen Free library has been giving away free copies of the first books in series, and it seems to work [baen.com]

Re:Book one. (1)

Kelerain (577551) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539958)

Quite a few it turns out.

http://www.baen.com/library/ [baen.com]
The Baen Free library provides free scifi works which are also published by Baen books.

Some of these are entire works, some are as you suggest the first book (or two or three) of multi-part works. The majority of authors who decided to participate and give thier works away tended to see a segnificant improvement of sales of thier books.

Read the rest on the site for more information.

Re:Book one. (0, Troll)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540066)

Baen's publications have little literary value and are usually pulp. Wake me up when TOR (which has the rights to a number of science-fiction literary achievements) releases their material in such a fashion.

Well (5, Funny)

Quick Sick Nick (822060) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539698)

A history of Pornography would be very informative.

Free the Bomis Babes! (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539996)

Seems a good (and relevant) place to start.

Re:Well (2, Funny)

klack (823307) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540078)

In HTML with pictures, or plain text?

Re:Well (2, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540242)

ASCII art, of course!

Use the money to generate new works (5, Insightful)

Marcion (876801) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539704)

You could generate new works under creative commons licences or other. I would start with a textbook for every subject and then spend the rest on 1000 new novels from every part of the world.

What a waste! Buy an existing base. (4, Interesting)

xtal (49134) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539858)

Get the rights to the "best of breed" textbooks; I know there are clear favorites in Engineering and Mathematics. From there, use them as the base in wiki format to extend them. A good set of undergraduate texts would do lots of good for the developing world and poor students everywhere. Buying books is EXPENSIVE, and in most engineering related disiplines, a real waste, since the base mathematics has not changed in many years.

Re:Use the money to generate new works (1)

Lars512 (957723) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540182)

Thats's an excellent idea. What's more academics and experts would clamour to help write the books, since their motivation is usually reputation, or improved teaching materials, rather than money. This desire can be milked for the public good, and star teams of authors could be assembled to put together definitive texts.

Wait a moment. If they're wikibooks, maybe the authors won't get credit at all... perhaps this would be better for citizendium. Then the "star team" could be the official editors of a given book, supplying most of the original content themselves. Give citizendium the money! (lol)

Re:Use the money to generate new works (3, Insightful)

supabeast! (84658) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540188)

You could generate new works under creative commons licences or other. I would start with a textbook for every subject and then spend the rest on 1000 new novels from every part of the world.


Why assume that anything produced under such a scheme would be any good? It makes a lot more sense to buy existing works known to be worth the money than it does to spend it commissioning work that may very well not be worth anything to anyone by the time it's finished.

Re:Use the money to generate new works (4, Interesting)

Propaganda13 (312548) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540256)

I've got an idea for a new work that would require vast community input. I call it Rebuild the World project AKA In Case of Disaster. The idea is that you start with nothing (no tools, etc.) and bring the technology level back up to 1940's(or up to current levels). I'm talking everything from simple tools and shelters to finding ore and refining it to making automobiles and radios. The idea is way too big for one person to do.

Open content GIS data (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16539714)

Open content GIS data from around the world. It would make developing the next generation of location aware devices/webpages a reality

Re:Open content GIS data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16540034)

That's a very intelligent and insightful idea!
If I could be bothered to create an account I'd mod that up!

Re:Open content GIS data (1)

xtal (49134) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540046)

Only terrorists would want that. :rolleyes:

Re:Open content GIS data (1)

Millenniumman (924859) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540152)

I am not sure if you are including this in GIS stuff, it seems like you were more referring to location/statistical information, but what I would like to see is high resolution satellite/fly over images. There is some good public domain stuff, but it doesn't come near to the quality of the images in Google Earth or the bird's eye view in Microsoft Virtual Earth. Google Earth is okay, but the interface isn't as nice as it could be and the restrictions on using the images can be problematic.

Text books of course (5, Insightful)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539728)

If you are going to make a $100m philanthropic gesture, which I assume this is, then surely you would want to see the largest possible impact for your effort. Remove the copyrights from the books necessary to give the impoverised of the world free access to the materials required for a decent education and I'm sure that those with the necessary skills to translate those works into as many languages as required and teach it to those willing to listen will step forwards as well.

How about one book per academic subject (4, Insightful)

abradsn (542213) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539734)


One book per academic subject.
One for each kind of math.
One for each kind of music.
One for each kind of computer science.
One for masonry, or automotive, or other trades.
and so on...

So, someone can go to the "tutorial" section of wikipedia and learn how to do whatever they would normally need textbooks or college to learn.

Granted that you could likely only reach an ametuer level this way most of the time, it would be a great starting point for a lot of people into business and hobby.

Re:How about one book per academic subject (2, Insightful)

MagicDude (727944) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539988)

While an interesting idea, you have to wonder how much of these books will be outdated in 10 or 20 years, espically ones relating to rapidly evolving fields like computer science. While I don't want to say that making current events and scientific theories isn't important, one has to wonder whether there are better uses for the money that will be more lasting, like in making literature or music free of copyrights.

Core concepts do not go out of date (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16540274)

you have to wonder how much of these books will be outdated in 10 or 20 years, espically ones relating to rapidly evolving fields like computer science.

My core computer science texts date back more than ten years. They are still perfectly relevant today. Core subjects in computer science have not changed in ages. Data structures, operating systems, networking, relational databases all go back more than two decades. And they are just as, if not more, relevant today.

The key is to acquire texts on core concepts. These are things that should hold true forever. You would not want to waste money on Teach Yourself Java in 21 Days. For things like that, someone will write up a tutorial. Instead you would acquire works on the concepts of higher-level languages, virtual machines, design patterns, etc.

Re:How about one book per academic subject (1)

Ruff_ilb (769396) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540002)

That's all well and good, but it's not at all representative. It should be a diverse collection, sure, but it shouldn't be downright eclectic. Just to demonstrate a point, look at your "One for each kind of music, one for each kind of computer science, one for each kind of math... One for masonry, or automotive... [etc]"

Consider - It would sure be nice to have a bunch of different math textbooks, and music books ranging from baroque to early 20th century jazz, but if this collection is to be the most useful, texts should be liberated based on exactly that; their utility. Books on actual tradeskills or skills needed by most people would be the most useful.

I like your idea in theory, it just doesn't necessarily make sense to distribute the copyrights based along that distribution.

Re:How about one book per academic subject (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16540304)

>One book per academic subject.
>One for each kind of math.
>One for each kind of music.
>One for each kind of computer science.
>One for masonry, or automotive, or other trades.

... and in the darkness bind them?

Need you ask? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16539738)

Gentlemen, the time to accomplish the long-expressed dream of Slashdot has come!

With this funding, I believe that we may at long last be able to open-source Natalie Portman.

Re:Need you ask? (2, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539900)

With this funding, I believe that we may at long last be able to open-source Natalie Portman.

And the prospect alone would probably petrify her.

KFG

Wikified? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16539742)

Does that mean, let open to vandalism and subtle defacement?

If so, then I want nothing wikified.

GIS + sat. images (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16539756)

I would enjoy having access to public domain GIS data. I currently have access to lots of it (generated by the gov't no less) under restrictive licenses through my uni, but I can't do anything public with it without licensing it for commercial use.

Think of all the nice free applications that could be built and integrated into wikipedia if we had public domain GIS data and sattelite imagery for the entire planet. I guess it will happen in my lifetime as copyrights and whatnot expire, but it would be nice if it was before my 80'th bd. (Fuck you Disney)

Entertainment as well as education (1, Insightful)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539782)

Entertainment: The classic "nerd" stuff- Hitchiker's Guide, Lord of the Rings, etc... All the classics, Shakespearean works, that sort of thing. Education is of course a key, and all the major scientific writings, from Newton's Optiks on should be free, but "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"- focusing entirely on Information while forgetting Entertainment will not be as good.

Re:Entertainment as well as education (3, Informative)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539802)

Shakespere is public domain.

Re:Entertainment as well as education (2, Informative)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540086)

Shakespere is public domain.

Current editions of Shakespeare aren't.

Re:Entertainment as well as education (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540140)

Could you please elaborate? If you are referring to recently published copies of the books that contain additional material (biography, commentary, etc), then it is the additional material that is copyrighted, not the Shakespeare-penned material itself.

Audio (1)

From A Far Away Land (930780) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539786)

I'd like the collective works of Britany Spears to be freed.

Just kidding. Really! But you have to admit, if they were, then Wikipedia would have a whole different crowd suddenly interested in encyclopedias.

james bond bad guy radar (3, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539790)

A few years ago I took a GPS that kicked out serial positioning data, and a laptop that I had used to suck overhead satellite potography from teraserver, and had a genuine james bond dashboard radar thing. Novelty, but fun anyway to watch the red dot move around on the satellite map and know it's you. Found some places and roads in town that I didn't know existed and that were not on any map.

I had a hard time finding additional imagery after teraserver sold out. (to MS iirc?) I would like to have even been able to order it, but USGS charges a fortune for their quarter quads and you don't get the high resolution coordinates for each area on the map due to them not being photographed perfectly square. This is something that I would like to see opened up.

One thing to bear in mind unfortuantely is that this information goes stale. google maps is about 15 years out of date for half my city. So this would have to be renewed occasionally to stay of value.

Re:james bond bad guy radar (1)

Your Pal Dave (33229) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540316)

I had a hard time finding additional imagery after teraserver sold out.(to MS iirc?)


Actually, MSFT sold out the Terraserver name to another company, but they still run the original site at http://www.terraserver-usa.com/ [terraserver-usa.com] . There's a lot more USGS stuff at http://nationalmap.gov/ [nationalmap.gov] .

We're pretty fortunate here in the States that the Government freely distributes their cartographic data. A lot of countries treat it as some sort of state secret, or at least as a revenue stream.

How about some software? (3, Interesting)

bdesham (533897) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539822)

While there are plenty of things that could/should be wikified and added to Wikipedia's knowledge base, it would also be nice to help people use the things that are already present.

Specifically, I'm talking about the open formats upon which Wikimedia insists, and the lack of support for those formats on Mac OS X. Audio must be Vorbis and video Theora, but there isn't any convenient way to play these. Sure there are ports of mplayer and other such tools, but the average OS X user isn't willing to use tools with non-standard UIs and flaky behavior. IMHO there should be an effort to create plugins for Quicktime that allows seamless playback of Vorbis and Theora content with iTunes and/or Quicktime Player. This would include playback on the iPod.

I cringe every time I see a link to an audio or video file on a Wikimedia site, because I know that in order to view the content I'm going to need to fire up some program other than iTunes if I want to watch it. iTunes is well-designed and feels comfortable, and the third-party media players can't help but feel different—not to mention that it's impossible to play, say Vorbis music and iTS music with the same program.

The contribution of money towards a Quicktime component—or even to Apple, as that's where iPod changes would have to come from—might not be a frivolous use of a $100 million grant.

Re:How about some software? (3, Informative)

BrokenSegue (895288) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539920)

A solution to your troubles is already in the works and thus the money can be safely placed elsewhere. Currently the developers are working on an embedded-media implementation of ogg theora. You can read more about the development effort at media-wiki [wikimedia.org] .

Re:How about some software? (4, Insightful)

fieldmethods (620984) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539992)

Why should Wikimedia invest in extensions to iTunes to support free formats? Apple doesn't _like_ free formats. So what guarantee is there that such extensions would have a shelf life at all?

Media is a pain in the ass on every platform. Linux users cringe every time they see a Quicktime file, a Flash file, etc, etc, etc.

Given that state of affairs, it doesn't make sense for an organization that supports freeing information to invest in software from a company that's exacerbating the problem in the first place.

Re:How about some software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16540124)

How about getting a real computer fanboy???

Ok, Sorry. That WAS rude but I had to say it. That's Apple's problem not the world's

In a serious vein, there is plenty of support in *nix for these formats, stretch yourself a bit & learn how it works and you'll be fine.

Better yet, create an open source project to address your concerns & put in the effort for the betterment of the entire community.

Don't expect someone else to do it or pay for it, Just make it happen!!!

Periodicals and auto tech manuals (2, Interesting)

cygtoad (619016) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539830)

I would like to see technical service manuals for all automobiles greater than 10 years old made availiable. Also high quality scans of most major periodicals and optical character recognized so that they can be searchable.

Dictionaries (5, Interesting)

Laz10 (708792) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539842)

English isn't my first language and I often spend good time searching for the right words to translate some term one way or the other.

Wikipedia could be a great platform to host dictionaries on. Every article/term should have an option to translate the term.
I know that the feature is half-way there already in the way that you can find the same article in a different language, but that doesn't work that great as a two way dictionary.

Buy a good base of dictionaries translating criscross between all (ok most of) the languages on wikipedia.

Re:Dictionaries (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16539928)

I bring to you:
http://www.wiktionary.org/ [wiktionary.org]

Colonization! (1)

JuliusRV (742529) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539852)

Sid Meier's Colonization! I would love to have an open source and Linux version of that! Yes, I know of FreeCol, but that's not the same...

Lawyers, bureaucrats, and lobbyists (5, Interesting)

mcelrath (8027) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539876)

First, $100M will buy a lot of lawyers, lobbyists, and bureaucrats. These people should then work with congress to return our copyright system to a reasonable state, with a functioning public domain. If the media on which works are recorded is degraded by the time they enter the public domain, then the public domain does not exist in any functional sense. Buying the works themselves within a broken system is only a short-term band-aid and would only work as long as there is money for it. Entering the public domain should be automatic for any work that is not being sold anymore by the copyright holder, or whose copyright holder has died. But in case the person with money doesn't like lawyers or congress, here are some other ideas:
  1. The Lexis Nexis database
  2. All scientific works ever written. This is work done by scientists for the betterment of mankind and to have it locked away from the public behind electronic library access fees is absurd. The public has a right to academic works, not just academics.
-- Bob

Re:Lawyers, bureaucrats, and lobbyists (4, Interesting)

StupendousMan (69768) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540202)

All scientific works ever written. This is work done by scientists for the betterment of mankind and to have it locked away from the public behind electronic library access fees is absurd. The public has a right to academic works, not just academics.

When "the public" pays me to referee papers by other astronomers, and "the public" pays the page charges for the papers I write ($110 per page, by the way), and "the public" pays the editors and typesetters of the journals, then "the public" might assert a right to those papers.

Just to forestall the inevitable responses, no, the federal government is not paying my salary, and no, it hasn't paid for the page charges of my most recent publications. The NSF and NASA do support a great deal of research in astronomy, of course, and grants from those agencies do pay for good fraction of the publications in this area.

On second thought, almost all recent work in astronomy and physics is freely available to public at the LANL preprint archive site [lanl.gov] , so maybe this whole discussion is moot....

Important cultural works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16539912)

I'm sure other will grumble because this is American-Centric, but thanks to recent (and absurd to the point of perversion) copyright extensions here in the U.S. many of our classic cultural works remain locked up... you think that poem you read in gradeschool by Robert Frost was public domain?

And sadly, our copyrights reverberate to other countries thanks to treaties and the WTO... just look at Australia.

Bank notes! (5, Funny)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539916)

I always wanted to print my own copies. :-)

Re:Bank notes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16540076)

Jus' so you know, most banknotes are already on Wikimedia Commons.

Journals! (3, Insightful)

autophile (640621) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539918)

I'd like to take all of the IEEE journals and other scientific journals, plus the scientific works from Springer-Verlag, and put them on wiki. Of course, I would also like that to be continuous as well, so that new papers are also freed.

--Rob

Re:Journals! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16540290)

Wikifing journal articles or literary work has little purpose, as these are meaningful only because they are frozen in time with an author and date.

What you're talking about would be an "open library project", but that's not the strength of Wikipedia. Wikipedia is about community improvement of documents, and they would like to buy material to bootstrap the process. As such, textbooks (you can correct typos, add exercices), GIS (you can add the new street they just built in your neighborhood last week) and other such works make much more sense.

My vote.... (1)

cyberworm (710231) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539932)

hookers and beer!

Re:My vote.... (3, Funny)

ebassi (591699) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540138)

hookers and beer!

in fact, forget the beer! ah, screw the whole thing!

For $100M, I would (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539934)

build a time machine, so that I could go forward in time far enough that all books are public domain, and bring them all back now. Now that would be a sound investment...

The collected works... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16539940)

...of Britney Spears!

Seriously, though, I think the idea of paying for copyrighted material whose current owners are the most active in enforcing their copyrights could either: (1) dramatically reduce the litigation; or, (2) further validate the idea of copyright and thus increase litigation.

Also, Wikipedia would have to make lots of copyright purchases really quickly to avoid copyright owners catching on and jacking up their prices.

I think a good start for Wikipedia would be all major college textbooks - the huge ones used in core classes like: biology, physics, calculus, English, economics, psychology, etc. The benefit to society would be huge; students around the world would have access to these expensive and informative texts.

senators and congressmen (4, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539948)

How much did it cost Disney to buy the senators and congressmen who voted for the latest copyright extension?

An alternative use for the money (5, Insightful)

Wills (242929) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539952)

I would suggest the money should be used instead to support a powerful well-funded lobbying effort for copyright reform, perhaps helping any number of the existing organisations such as Union for the Public Domain [public-domain.org] . There are many issues - the unnecessarily huge and increasing length of copyright terms, the inaccessibility of orphan works whose copyright owners cannot be traced, questions of balance between just rewards to creators and fair use/dealing for consumers, non-expiry of DRM even after nominal copyright expiration, etc. Spending USD 100m on a number of popular copyrights is very generous, but copyrights can be extremely expensive, and USD 100m is a tiny bit of the total value of all the still current copyrights. Reforming copyright, however, would change the future for all copyright works, something which could be of greater long-term value to society, commerce and industry including the copyright holders.

Re:An alternative use for the money (2, Interesting)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540070)

I would suggest the money should be used instead to support a powerful well-funded lobbying effort for copyright reform...

I disagree. While $100 million is no laughable chunk o' change, its effectiveness is somewhat doubtful. Buying the rights to publish copyrighted works for all to use would have the most immediate (and gauranteed) benefit to those not just in the US, but all around the world.

I think reforming copyright is a futile effort at the present time. This isn't to say that it isn't worth worrying about, there just needs to be a more substantial and tangible reason than currently exists in order to move the politicians.

Re:An alternative use for the money (1)

ricree (969643) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540160)

Not only that, but building a solid publicly available library could be used to demonstrate the importance of bringing copyrighted materials back to the public. I'm sure that the politicians won't personally care, but if enough people get used to the free availability of information, then it might be possible to turn this into a large general public campaign issue.

Create a Non-profit (4, Interesting)

rotenberry (3487) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539962)

"Create a non-profit that researches 'orphaned' works for copyright status. A large percentage of works published post-1923 are eligible for public domain status but it requires time and work to track down the copyright holders."

This suggestion is already in the list, and it is far and away the best suggestion I have seen.

A few of relevance to my subject area: (3, Interesting)

ettlz (639203) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539970)

  • The Feynman Lectures
  • Weinberg, volumes 1-3
  • Landau and Lifschitz
  • Zinn-Justin
  • Wald
  • Kleinert
to name but a few.

Wikipedia to sell its Soul... (1)

sitturat (550687) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539972)

Where are they getting 100M from? Could it be that the Wikipedia Foundation is considering to stop being a non-profit organisation and start placing advertising in its articles?

This is a shame, really (5, Insightful)

eclectro (227083) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539974)

Our founding fathers never intended for copyrights to last FOREVER as the do now, but for "limited times.' I think a little peace of that 100 million should be used to get copyright abuser enablers out of office. For one, find a another republican (red state Utahns will never vote for a democrat on principle alone) to replace Orrin Hatch PLEASE.

He was a big sponser of the Copyright Term Extension Act, DMCA, the patriot act II on steroids, FBI carnivore, extended wiretapping, and his office wanted to get the Claritin patent extended because he was using their jet when running for president.

Anything to get this IP black hole out of office will reap a 10x benifit in the future, and not just for better copyright law.

Once that is done, get a repeal of the bastard CTEA law (it won't happen while he is in the senate). In fact, bet on a CTEA II to come down the pike to protect that nasty rodent [wikipedia.org]

I have an idea... (1)

mobby_6kl (668092) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539980)

I own the copyright to several essays, papers, and pieces of software I'd be willing to offer for this project. When do the negotiations begin?

JStor. (1)

Werkhaus (549466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539982)

All those lovely historical journals and publications. Probably wouldn't cost too much, either.

Happy Birthday (4, Interesting)

mccalli (323026) | more than 7 years ago | (#16539984)

It's my son's first birthday on Tuesday and I'll be singing Happy Birthday to him. That's a copyrighted song, with royalties payable on public performance I believe.

Would be a nice touch to put that one into the public domain.

Cheers,
Ian

Teaching English to access more content (4, Insightful)

Brento (26177) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540000)

Think about this in conjunction with the one-laptop-per-child project: what if third world countries suddenly had access to Wikipedia? Where would you put your hundred million bucks to buy content that would make the human race better off simply by having access to this knowledge?

I understand why people are suggesting basic textbooks, but they're taking too much for granted.

Start by acquiring the best English skills courses so that these billions of third world kids will be able to understand first world content.

Giving a kid a laptop only gets them so far: they have to be able to understand what they're viewing. That's where the $100 mil could really leverage all of Wikipedia's existing content. Make it easy for these kids to learn English, no matter which language they're starting from.

Re:Teaching English to access more content (3, Insightful)

IWannaBeAnAC (653701) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540276)

Yay for cultural imperialism!

But seriously, that is a pretty racist remark. English is a minority language in the world, and by no means has a monopoly on 'first world content'. But the bottom line is why spend vast amounts of money teaching people a language that has no relevance to them (apart from understanding said 'first world content'), when you could pay someone to translate it, more cheaply and end up with content that fits in with local cultural tradition.

Public service (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16540030)

The entire photographic corpus of Giovanni Aria.

I'm surprised! (0, Troll)

linguizic (806996) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540032)

Without a doubt what needs to be bought by the wikifoundation to be freed is windows!

Re:I'm surprised! (1)

Tatsh (893946) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540196)

$100 million is definitely not enough.

Re:I'm surprised! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16540226)

Without a doubt what needs to be bought by the wikifoundation to be freed is windows!

Won't happen as Windows makes _billions_ for Microsoft. A much more practical and cost effective idea would be to hire a couple of programmers for the Wine project for a couple of years. That project is maturing tremendously.

Don't let them know you're loaded! (3, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540048)

They shouldn't have been so vocal about this. Now everyone knows they have a $100 million budget, and every rightsholder they approach is going to put his pinky to his lips and do his best Dr. Evil impression.

Classic Games (4, Interesting)

popo (107611) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540092)

I don't know if "wikified" is the right term, but I've always thought that
classic "no-longer-for-sale" games should be handed over to the public domain.

The intellectual property for future projects and sequels should of course
remain in the hands of the copyright holder. It seems to me that this is a win/win
for publishers since the properties would gain a new lease on life.

Really, I just want to be able to download M.U.L.E., some Infocom titles
and Master of Orion (although I'm not sure I need another addiction in my life
right now).

Business Plan (1)

eebra82 (907996) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540122)

1) Invest $1 million to find the best research group.
2) Invest $7 million on a research to find out what's potentially the best idea.
3) Invest $2 million on a team with capability to evaluate the best idea.
4) Invest $9 million on creating a small-scaled model of the best idea.
5) Invest $6 million on a research to find out how the audience will cope with the idea.
6) Invest $21 million on software from Microsoft.
7) Take back $11 million (the remains of the $21 million spent on Microsoft) after you've found out that the same thing can be done in India for $2 million.
8) Use the remaining dollars for marketing.

At least that's how I'd do it..

The Complete Scientology Library: All of it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16540126)

Every single word ever written on the subject, on a Wiki, for the world to have access to ..

the obvious (4, Interesting)

TRRosen (720617) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540132)

Call up novell and buy Unix and open source it all. beyond that standardized k-12 textbooks with interactive test databases so teachers can make custom exams. and make the whole thing available as a turnkey server schools could just plug-into their network and supply copies on DVD or BlueRay that would hold every single text. Imagine little Jimmy being issued a laptop containing every textbook he will every use. Hey we might even save enough money to hire more than one teacher for every 50 students

Looney Tunes (1)

MuNansen (833037) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540134)

The best of the best.

Standards? (1)

LoneWlf794 (984089) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540156)

Wouldn't everyone like to see certain standards (like the IEEE POSIX standard) become oepn? As well as like all books so long as there are PDF versions made available :)

$100M won't buy shit these days (2, Insightful)

throatmonster (147275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540164)

It really won't. Lobbyists and a propaganda machine for a couple years, or a popular tiny fraction of protected works, or whatever. It might make a few waves in the pond, but it's not going to change the water or the cretins lurking therin. You're gonna have to get closer to a billion to blow the current mess out of the water. Really.

Physics (4, Interesting)

SleepyHappyDoc (813919) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540168)

I'd love to see them acquire The Feynman Lectures on Physics. Opening up a classic resource for 'normal' people, to everyone, would be huge.

How about (1)

mnmn (145599) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540178)

10,000,000 copies of Linux!

National {fire|electrical|building} codes (4, Informative)

Dr. Zowie (109983) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540216)

Most of these are owned by private entities, making it quite difficult to access the information -- for example, a copy of the California building codes costs close to $500 in three-ring binder form. Most jurisdictions incorporate the copyrighted documents into law by reference only, trying to sidestep the problem that the law of the land is not copyrightable.

Re:National {fire|electrical|building} codes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16540318)

That's too much of a cash cow for those publishers. It would make better sense to have a national law passed concerning access to codes. Too bad congree is bunch of whores.

Buy (1)

kurtis25 (909650) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540278)

Sony DRM? I kid... Not text books in the new sense. You could waste a lot of money on text books that would be out of date in a few years. I would go with the top 1000 text books used over the past 25 years. The classics that don't go 'out of date'. Or 1000 top checked out library books over the past 25 years.

"Public" standards (1)

nazera (1016341) | more than 7 years ago | (#16540300)

I have to build and design things around a whole crap load of "standards"...UL, IEEE, ASTM, DIN, ISO and so forth. In almost every case I have to pay for an electronic or paper copy of these documents.......and they are almost always HUGE and filled with cross-references.....Want to improve world wide productivity, better understanding and implentation of these "standards" ?...Wiki them. As a bonus this would give us all the ability to help point out conflicting and/or just plain unintelligible parts of these "standards".
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