The Internet Archive is fighting publishers over the right of lending digital books

Daniel Sims

Posts: 584   +21
Staff
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.

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.

Permalink to story.

 

Thanthan

Posts: 91   +190
If they have a physical copy in reserve for every one lent I really can’t see the big deal. Just seems like a bunch of corpus desperate to see the death of the very medium they publish by removing all the great online resources that inspire people to actually go explore the world of written media…
 

psycros

Posts: 4,334   +6,327
The Internet Archive is not a for-profit business so most commercial laws do not apply to it. However, it wouldn't matter even if it was a reseller. If the archive pays for each copy of a book that it scans, then it can allow that many copies to be "loaned out". Every US legal precedent so far supports the reasoning that if a digital item is handled exactly like a physical item then all laws that CAN be applied to the physical version must also be applied to the digital form.
 

BuckarooBonzai

Posts: 138   +100
Since ebooks make the content available world wide, all it means is more money and nothing else. It has no other viable value.
 

RudyBob

Posts: 702   +666
Like Hollywood freaked out over TV then over VHS The publishers are now freaking out. I don't know what's right or wrong here but freaking out over money is a way of life in any country or economy.
 

m4a4

Posts: 3,011   +3,945
TechSpot Elite
If they have a physical copy in reserve for every one lent I really can’t see the big deal. Just seems like a bunch of corpus desperate to see the death of the very medium they publish by removing all the great online resources that inspire people to actually go explore the world of written media…
If you read the article, you'd see that they relaxed that rule for covid.
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,817   +1,881
the Internet Archive ensures it lends out only one copy of each book at a time, but in 2020 it temporarily relaxed that rule...
I wonder how TIA's founders would react to "temporarily relaxing" the rule against burglars breaking into their homes and stealing their property?
 

fadingfool

Posts: 270   +331

Tams80

Posts: 121   +82
Legally, it looks pretty clear that The Internet Archive broke the law. They lended more books than they had physical copies of, so protections for that don't apply (past the first digital copy lent).

Publisher lobby groups are also trying to get a cut of legally lent copies, but that's a different issue.

Now morally, yes those publishers should have been generous at the time. But The Internet Archive seem to have only retrospectively asked for permission and legally that just doesn't hold water.

As The Internet Archive is such a valuable resource, hopefully an agreement can be made that The Internet Archive get a strong warning, but that they don't have to cover any 'percieved losses' the publishers may have suffered.
 

noXLar

Posts: 8   +5
Legally, it looks pretty clear that The Internet Archive broke the law. They lended more books than they had physical copies of, so protections for that don't apply (past the first digital copy lent).

Publisher lobby groups are also trying to get a cut of legally lent copies, but that's a different issue.

Now morally, yes those publishers should have been generous at the time. But The Internet Archive seem to have only retrospectively asked for permission and legally that just doesn't hold water.

As The Internet Archive is such a valuable resource, hopefully an agreement can be made that The Internet Archive get a strong warning, but that they don't have to cover any 'percieved losses' the publishers may have suffered.


great comment.
 

terzaerian

Posts: 1,486   +2,188
Scott Carney's tweet just proves what we already know - our system of copyright has been corrupted to fatten the wallets of rightshoarders, protection of the creator is an afterthought where it is even considered at all.

Death to copyright.
 
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BadThad

Posts: 1,141   +1,341
Interesting consider TIA doesn't make money. Little more than a legal technicality that I hope the judicial system can see through.
 

Tams80

Posts: 121   +82
Scott Carney's tweet just proves what we already know - our system of copyright has been corrupted to fatten the wallets of rightshoarders, protection of the creator is an afterthought where it is even considered at all.

Death to copyright.
You wouldn't be saying that if you had any work worth something.