The Internet Archive is fighting publishers over the right of lending digital books
In context: A two-year court case between a group of book publishers and the Internet Archive heated up this month after both sides asked a New York court for a summary judgment. The legal battle could decide the fate of the Internet Archive and influence how US libraries lend out books.
The legal case over the Internet Archive’s digital lending program enters a new stage as both parties request a summary judgment in a Manhattan court. The Internet Archive maintains that buying and scanning books gives it the right to lend them out within limits like many libraries do. The plaintiffs argue the tactic is just a front for piracy.
The Internet Archive and cooperating libraries use Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) to let users check out digital versions of books the Archive purchased and scanned, evoking the First-Sale doctrine.
A group representing publishers Hachette Book Group, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins Publishers, and John Wiley & Sons says libraries should pay licensing fees to lend out ebooks. The publishers also point out the many documents and other materials available on the Internet Archive for free.
The Internet Archive only has two of my books (and one translation) available online. Right now my puvliusher is suing the @internetarchive on my behalf.
But my publisher-owned by Rupert Murdoch–didn’t ask me. I’m all for my books being available through them. https://t.co/57L1d8Et0l
— Scott Carney (@sgcarney) July 13, 2022
Through DRM, the Internet Archive ensures it lends out only one copy of each book at a time, but in 2020 it temporarily relaxed that rule to help students who were out of school during Covid lockdowns. This prompted the initial lawsuit.
Since the summary judgment requests, some have made statements supporting the Internet Archive. This week, the EFF and Authors Alliance filed Amicus briefs asking the court to uphold CDL as lawful, claiming the Internet Archive contains much valuable information not easily accessed elsewhere.
In addition to ebooks and other documents, the Internet Archive contains the Wayback Machine — a historical backup of websites no longer online and past versions of websites. A significant portion of Wikipedia’s sources also stem from the Internet Archive.