Internet Archive loses first ruling in copyright lawsuit
A federal judge ruled against the digital database Internet Archive in a copyright infringement lawsuit filed by four major publishers.
Hachette, HarperCollins, John Wiley & Sons, and Penguin Random House sued Internet Archive following the implementation of its National Emergency Library(Opens in a new tab) at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to COVID, the Internet Archive lent e-books via a “controlled digital lending”(Opens in a new tab) system, or CDL: Libraries offer loans of digitized book copies on a one-to-one basis — that means that they circulate the exact number of copies they own. When the emergency library launched, Internet Archive removed all waitlists for books and lent out any amount of copies on a two-week basis.
On its blog, the archive’s director of open libraries Chris Freeland wrote that the emergency library was launched(Opens in a new tab) due to the sudden closures of libraries and schools. Publishers sued Internet Archive(Opens in a new tab) in June 2020, and soon after, the archive shut down the library(Opens in a new tab).
This week, Judge John G. Koeltl of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan decided that Internet Archive produced “derivative” works(Opens in a new tab) that required permission from the copyright holders, the Associated Press reported.
The “nonprofit library” will appeal the decision(Opens in a new tab), Freeland wrote on its blog. “Today’s lower court decision in Hachette v. Internet Archive is a blow to all libraries and the communities we serve,” he wrote.
“We will continue our work as a library,” he noted. “This case does not challenge many of the services we provide with digitized books including interlibrary loan, citation linking, access for the print-disabled, text and data mining, purchasing ebooks, and ongoing donation and preservation of books.”
“Libraries are more than the customer service departments for corporate database products. For democracy to thrive at global scale, libraries must be able to sustain their historic role in society—owning, preserving, and lending books,” said Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle in a statement. “This ruling is a blow for libraries, readers, and authors and we plan to appeal it.”