As a U.S. district court judge on Friday sided with four large publishers who sued the organization for copyright infringement, Internet Archive promised to appeal.
Internet Archives ran a restricted digital lending program before the COVID-19 epidemic, enabling users to borrow scanned versions of bought or donated books on a one-to-one basis. The nonprofit organization established the National Emergency Library, making 1.4 million digital books available without waitlists as public health problems necessitated school and library closures.
In June 2020, Internet Archive was sued by Hachette, HarperCollins, John Wiley & Sons, and Penguin Random House about its lending practices. In Hachette v. Internet Archive, Judge John G. Koeltl of the Southern District of New York concluded on Friday that the organization “creates derivative e-books that, when lent to the public, compete with those approved by the publishers.”
Internet Archive “argues that by making books readily available online, it fosters study, scholarship, and cultural involvement by making it simpler for customers to access books who reside far from physical libraries,” the judge ruled. But the harm to the publishers’ market cannot be outweighed by these purported gains.
Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive, vowed to continue battling the publishers in a statement in response to the decision.
“Libraries are more than just the corporate database products’ customer service teams. Libraries must be able to continue playing their historic role in society – owning, saving, and lending books — if democracy is to flourish on a worldwide basis, according to Kahle. We intend to challenge this decision since it is a setback for libraries, users, and authors.
Similar cautions have been issued by supporters of Internet Archive throughout the legal dispute, including following Friday’s decision.
According to Lia Holland, campaigns and communications director at the digital rights organization Fight for the Future, “a lower court judge in New York has completely disregarded the traditional rights of libraries to own and preserve books in favor of maximizing the profits of Big Media conglomerates.”
They declared, “We congratulate the Internet Archive’s announcement of the appeal, as well as their strong dedication to defending the rights of all libraries and their users in the digital age. “And our admiration is reciprocated; this week alone, over 14,000 people have joined our pledge at BattleForLibraries.com to preserve libraries’ digital rights.”
Holland went on to say
From the standpoint of fundamental human rights, it is manifestly ludicrous to compare an e-book license obtained through a Big Tech business that engages in mass surveillance with a digital book file that is owned and maintained by a nonprofit library that protects privacy. Publishers do not currently provide libraries with a way to purchase and retain digital books, making such publications susceptible to unlawful editing, censoring, or outright erasure. Moreover, library users are exposed to surveillance and punishment for their reading habits.
Only the most well-known, bestselling authors stand to gain in a world where libraries are unable to own, preserve, or control the digital books in their collections. This is to the detriment of the vast majority of authors, whose works are preserved and acquired by libraries long after publishers have stopped promoting them. Also, a disproportionate amount of historically underrepresented and local voices are being published exclusively in digital formats today, reinforcing the necessity for a strong system of library preservation to guarantee that these tales are preserved for future generations.
It would be terrible if libraries became nothing more than a receptacle for Big Tech’s licensing software and Big Media’s most popular works, but that is the direction this choice is taking us. No reader who values an honest and fair written world would find such a future appeal. In order to demand strong ownership and preservation rules for digital books and libraries, we intend to prepare an in-person action. See BattleForLibraries.com for the most recent information on where and when.
Around 300 authors signed an open letter in September organized by Fight for the Future criticizing trade organizations and publishers for their actions against digital libraries, including the case against Internet Archive.
According to signatory Jeff Sharlet, “Libraries saved my life as a young reader, and I’ve seen them do as much and more for so many others.” “It is more crucial than ever for writers to join librarians in defending the right to share stories at a time when libraries are on the front lines of fascism’s assault on democracy. Without it, democracy won’t endure.
Erin Taylor, a fellow singer, stated that “the Internet Archive is a public good. Public libraries are positive. Profit over widespread access to books and information would only be prioritized by the most intellectually underdeveloped person.
Koeltl’s decision was made just two days after the American Library Association published a study stating that in 2022, a record-breaking 2,571 titles—a 38% rise from the previous year—were challenged by pro-censorship groups promoting book bans.
Republican politicians in the U.S. The so-called Parents Bill of Rights Act, which education advocates and progressive MPs claim aims to outlaw books and further marginalize communities, was passed by the House of Representatives on Friday.