I doubt there is anyone reading this blog who hasn’t heard of wikipedia. I imagine that most of you are like me—it’s often the first place I turn when I want a quick “lowdown” on subjects as disparate as a Civil War general, postmodern theorists, Apple IIs, or He-Man toys. My students also use wikipedia incessantly, though other professors tend to chide them for using an “unreliable” resource. I’ve contributed to wikipedia and wikibooks, but one thing that always concerned me was how the technology required to access these wikis limits the extent to which they are able to fulfill their mission—to provide free, quality information to as many folks as possible.
To address this problem, Jimbo (Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia) is talking to publishers about the possibility of publishing some parts of the ’pedia in printed form. He seems to think it’d make the most sense to group pages together under subjects, like rock’n roll or World War II. These volumes could be sold on a competitive basis by different publishers. I’m wondering to what extent they could copyright their editions. Would doing their own editing and illustrations constitute a new edition subject to copyright?
(See this article for more information!.)