Library and Archives Canada’s secret deal lets private group sell publicly-owned books

Chris Cobb

OTTAWA — Confusion and anger over a major, secretly brokered deal between Library and Archives Canada and a private high-tech consortium heightened Wednesday amid damage-control efforts by archive officials who say the deal is a good one.

Details of the project, revealed late Tuesday by the Ottawa Citizen, would see Library and Archives hand over millions of publicly-owned books and documents to which, in exchange, will get a 10-year exclusive licence to sell it in sophisticated digital format.

Critics say the deal, which had been shrouded in secrecy, amounts to selling back to Canadians what they already own.

LAC says the so-called Heritage Project, to be launched with an initial $2 million from Canadian university libraries, is misunderstood.

Until Tuesday both sides were refusing to discuss the deal publicly and held everyone in the know under non-disclosure agreements — gag orders — pending an official announcement planned…

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