Internet Archive Lawsuit

The lawsuit brought by four publishers against the Internet Archive is slowly moving forward. The suit, brought in 2020 by HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, and Wiley, alleges “willful mass copyright infringement” by IA’s “National Emergency Library”, which offered unlimited borrows of over a million ebooks. Both sides submitted mo­tions and requested summary judgment in July 2022. The actual trial is expected to begin this fall.

IA claims that most of the books they’re lend­ing are older titles that do not have commercial­ly available ebook versions, and that their loans have little if any commercial impact on books sales. Publishers argue that loaning digital ver­sions of books without permission from rights holders is a blatant copyright violation.

The Association of American Publishers re­leased a statement that says,

The filings show that IA’s illegal mass scan­ning, public display, and distribution of lit­erary works are in direct contravention of the Copyright Act and in direct competition with lawfully licensed markets for both li­brary and consumer eBooks. IA offers its unauthorized copies to the public at large through a global-facing enterprise coined ‘‘Open Library’’ and, previously, through a service dubbed the ‘‘National Emergency Library.’’ The defendant’s activities are part of a larger commercial enterprise that not only provides access to books but also adds to its bottom line. Between 2011 and 2020, IA made approximately $30 million from libraries for scanning books in their collections.

AAP CEO Maria A. Pallante adds,

Outrageously, IA has wrapped its large-scale infringement enterprise in a cloak of public service, but that posture is an affront to the most basic principles of copyright law. We hope and expect that the court will uphold established legal precedent, includ­ing by recognizing that formats are neither fungible nor free for the taking, but rather a key means by which authors and pub­lishers exercise their copyright interests, develop new markets, and contribute to public progress.

The Internet Archive’s motion is available at the Electronic Frontier Foundation site.

Hachette’s summary judgment motion can be read here.

This report and more like it in the August 2022 issue of Locus.

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