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Submissions/The Impact of Digital Books and Copyright Law on Wikipedia

From Wikimania 2012 • Washington, D.C., USA

This is an accepted submission for Wikimania 2012.

Submission no. 264
Title of the submission

The Impact of Digital Books and Copyright Law on Wikipedia : The Case of Baseball Digest

Type of submission (workshop, tutorial, panel, presentation)


Author of the submission

Abhishek Nagaraj

E-mail address




Country of origin


Affiliation, if any (organization, company etc.)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Personal homepage or blog


Slides or further information
Abstract (at least 300 words to describe your proposal)

Digitization projects like Google Books that provide and index massive amounts of content are posited to have a significant impact on the consumption and reuse of pre-existing knowledge. However traditional copyright laws remain applicable to such digital content and therefore might influence this process of digital consumption and reuse. This paper documents one such instance where positive gains from digitization are moderated by legal limits of copyright. I exploit the digitization of Baseball Digest, a 70 year old baseball publication to understand the reuse of content on pages for baseball players on Wikipedia. I find that digitization significantly impacts the quality of Wikipedia pages for baseball players as measured by the amount of text and images on a given page. However, the full benefit of the digitization process accrues only to players who played before 1964, and therefore more likely to feature in an issue of Baseball Digest that is out of copyright. Further copyright seems to impede the process of democratization that digital books engender through which less well-known pages become more popular. These results have significant policy guidelines for digitization projects, libraries and copyright law.


GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums)

Length of presentation/talk
25 Minutes
Will you attend Wikimania if your submission is not accepted?


Slides or further information (optional)

I will have slides and statistical data. Working paper is currently under revision and will be ready by the time of the conference.

Special request as to time of presentations

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  1. Quizmasti2 (talk) 21:24, 16 March 2012 (UTC)[reply]
  2. Tbayer (WMF) (talk) 09:47, 19 March 2012 (UTC) (by the way, would you mind notifying us at the Wikimedia Research Newsletter when this paper comes out?)[reply]
  3. NusHub (talk) 10:07, 5 July 2012 (UTC)[reply]

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