In recent weeks, there has been a huge groundswell online in opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), based on concerns that it will lead to internet censorship. But just keeping the internet free of censorship isn’t enough.
Today, locked in the basement of government entities like the National Archives, the Library of Congress, and the National Library of Medicine, are untold reams of valuable and important public information. To truly unlock the power of the internet, we need to make these important and valuable materials freely available online.
The Smithsonian alone has 40 million photographs in its collection. Imagine if those were freely available to artists, historians, and journalists to incorporate into their work. Imagine if the historic census data in the National Archives were available to professional and amateur genealogists.
Yes, digitizing this information is a big task. If we can put a man on the moon, why can’t we launch the Library of Congress into cyberspace?
CAP Chairman John Podesta and internet pioneer Carl Malmud recently wrote President Obama asking him to appoint a commission to start this effort:
When Thomas Jefferson donated his books to create the cornerstone of the Library of Congress, his library contained a wealth of useful information, from an extensive collection on the law to books on agriculture, chemistry, surgery, and medicine. With this contribution, Jefferson saw to it that the government of the United States would play a central role in the increase and diffusion of knowledge. It is time now for us to lay the cornerstone for our own era, to anchor our digital age with the vast holdings of our government so that we may promote the useful arts and the progress of science.
We ask your help to achieve this 21st century dream, making the vast resources of our federal government available to all on the global Internet, making access to knowledge a right for all Americans and a defining contribution for our future.
Please sign our petition to the president via the White House website HERE.