Authors Protest Publishers’ Law Suit Against the Internet Archive Library

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A vast and growing number of creative professionals and authors such as Neil Gaiman, Naomi Klein, Cory Doctorow, Alyssa Milano, Lily Wachowski, and Tom Morello have signed a letter in protest of the lawsuit brought by the publishing industry to the Internet Archive Library.

The Internet Archive is a digital library of websites and other cultural artifacts that are digital format, such as digital texts and books and audio recordings, video images, and software. It is the Internet Archive allows books to be borrowed via their Open Library service. The users can borrow books from the Internet Archive under the Archive’s Controlled Digital Lending program, that allows users to borrow books for a period of two weeks or less, and allows users to use any number of copies that they own. Archive physical holds.

in 2020, 4 publishing firms, Hachette Book Group, Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and Penguin Random House LLC, brought a suit against Internet Archive, claiming its Controlled Digital Lending program has violated copyright rights of publishers and caused them be unable to recover thousands of dollars. Internet Archive has countered that libraries have paid billions of dollars to publishers for books, and are investing huge resources into digitizing books, and that Controlled Digital Lending is fundamentally identical to library lending and helping to ensure that the public has access to books that libraries purchased and paid for, and does not hurt publishers. In reply to this lawsuit the Archive has stated it is possible that the publishing industry “would like to force libraries and their patrons into a world in which books can only be accessed, never owned, and in which availability is subject to the rightsholders’ whim.”


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The writers who signed to this letter described the suit as one of a number of initiatives from the industry of publishing to try to stop libraries from lending ebooks. The letter says: “Libraries are a fundamental public good. We, the authors who are not signed are disappointed by recent threats to libraries that are being carried out in our names by trade organizations like publishers’ associations like the American Association of Publishers and the Publishers Association: undermining the tradition of libraries’ rights to preserve and own books, threatening libraries by filing lawsuits and accusing librarians of being smeared.”

The letter continues to state the following “[w]e fear a future where libraries are reduced to a sort of Netflix or Spotify for books, from which publishers demand exorbitant licensing fees in perpetuity while unaccountable vendors force the spread of disinformation and hate for profit.”

Internet Archive filed a motion in July to dismiss the claims based on the fact that Controlled Digital Lending is a non-infringement of fair use rights of the books in question. The court hasn’t decided regarding the petition.

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