New Zealand Library Controversy

In July 2021, the National Library of New Zealand (NLNZ) made the controversial announcement that it would donate more than 400,000 books to the Internet Archive “so they can be digitised and preserved, ensuring future access for New Zealanders and global researchers.” The books are those being culled from the library system’s Overseas Published Collections “so we can make room to continue to grow our Māori, Pacific and New Zealand collections.”

The Publishers Association of New Zealand/Te Rau o Tākupu and the New Zealand Society of Authors described the plan as a partnership with an “internet pirate,” since the Internet Archive lends books it has digitized without first obtaining permission from copyright holders. The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) called on the library to “proactively seek permission from any rights holders whose books will be donated to the Internet Archive for digitisation.”

Instead, the library has announced an opt-out approach, asking for authors and other copyright holders to reach out if they don’t want their works digitized:

The National Library is offering an opt-out to any rights holders of the books before the donation is made. Internet Archive will also take down any title they hold at the request of any rights holders if they miss the opportunity to have items removed prior to the donation.

Rights owners have until December 1, 2021 to file opt-out requests, and will need to provide proof of rights. For more information, including a spreadsheet of affected authors, see the NLNZ website.

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