Publishers sue Internet Archive for loan of Open Library eBooks
Four major book publishers have filed a complaint against the Internet Archive for copyright infringements relating to the Open Library project, setting the stage for a major legal battle over one of the internet’s oldest eBook archives.
Launched in 2006, the Internet Archive’s open library allows users to borrow digitized e-books from physical copies, according to a theory called “controlled digital lending” (or CDL) which limits the number of times a scan is made. can be borrowed at once. The project enlarged in march with the launch of the National Emergency Library, which suspended waiting lists in response to the global pandemic, making all digitized books immediately accessible to anyone with an account.
Importantly, the project circumvents the typical license restrictions used by conventional libraries. Open Library eBooks are digitized from physical copies rather than purchased in their digital form, so the project never enters into a licensing agreement with the publisher.
Always, the four editors – Hachette, Penguin Random House, Wiley and HarperCollins – allege the whole project is a wholesale copyright infringement scheme. “Without any license or payment to authors or publishers, [the Internet Archive] scans printed books, uploads these digitized books illegally to its servers and distributes digital textual copies of the books in their entirety via public websites, ”the plaintiffs allege. “With a few clicks, any user connected to the Internet can download complete digital copies of copyrighted books from [the] respondent.”
This is a long-standing complaint from publishers and author groups. In April, the Authors’ Guild distributed an open letter raising similar concerns. “You hide your illegal digitization and distribution of books behind the pretext of magnanimously giving people access to those books,” the letter read. “But giving what is not yours is just stealing, and there is nothing magnanimous about it.”
Asked for comment, Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle called the lawsuit “disappointing.”
“As a library, the Internet Archive acquires books and lends them out, as libraries always have done,” Kahle said. The edge. “It supports publishing, authors and readers. Publishers who sue libraries for loaning books – in this case, protected digital versions, and with schools and libraries closed – is not in anyone’s best interests.
“We hope this can be resolved quickly,” he continued.
Updated June 1, 2:32 p.m. ET: Updated with comment from Brewster Kahle.