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Internet Archive sued over National Emergency Library

Publishers think they should be paid license fees.
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The lockdowns have greatly impacted people all across the world and have resulted in a total lockdown of many countries. At such a juncture, with education facilities and the public libraries that people are paying taxes for closed, the Internet Archive made an attempt to ensure that people didn’t miss out and provided access to more than one million books online.

That decision, however, did not sit well with book houses such as Penguin Random House, as they are now suing Internet Archive. Based on the lawsuit, it was revealed that the Internet Archive offered a “National Emergency Library” wherein books were available for free until the quarantine and public health crisis ended.

The Internet Archive is now being sued on the grounds of “willful mass copyright infringement” and the case was filed in the federal court of Manhattan by renowned publishers such as John Wiley & Sons, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins Publishers, and Hachette Book Group.

We obtained a copy of the lawsuit for you here.

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“There is nothing innovative or transformative about making complete copies of books to which you have no rights and giving them away for free,” said Maria A. Pallante, the president of the Association of American Publishers.

“They’ve stepped in downstream and taken the intellectual investment of authors and the financial investment of publishers, they’re interfering and giving this away,” accused the association.

The founder of the Internet Archive, Brewster Kahle said that his digital library was the only safe alternative to physical libraries which are now shutdown due to the pandemic:

“This morning, we were disappointed to read that four commercial publishers are suing the Internet Archive.

As a library, the Internet Archive acquires books and lends them, as libraries have always done. This supports publishing, authors and readers. Publishers suing libraries for lending books, in this case protected digitized versions, and while schools and libraries are closed, is not in anyone’s interest.

We hope this can be resolved quickly.”

While traditional libraries tend to pay licensing fees to publishers for lending their books, the Internet Archive doesn’t pay any such fees. Instead, it uploads scanned copies of purchased books that were donated.

That being said, based on what Kahle says, it was found that some writers want to keep their work on the platform. But the ones who don’t want their work on the platform could opt out, he said.

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