Libraries lend books, and must continue to lend books: Internet Archive responds to publishers’ lawsuit

Yesterday, the Internet Archive filed our response to the lawsuit brought by four commercial publishers to end the practice of Controlled Digital Lending (CDL), the digital equivalent of traditional library lending. CDL is a respectful and secure way to bring the breadth of our library collections to digital learners. Commercial ebooks, while useful, only cover a small fraction of the books in our libraries. As we launch into a fall semester that is largely remote, we must offer our students the best information to learn from—collections that were purchased over centuries and are now being digitized. What is at stake with this lawsuit? Every digital learner’s access to library books. That is why the Internet Archive is standing up to defend the rights of  hundreds of libraries that are using Controlled Digital Lending.

The publishers’ lawsuit aims to stop the longstanding and widespread library practice of Controlled Digital Lending, and stop the hundreds of libraries using this system from providing their patrons with digital books. Through CDL, libraries lend a digitized version of the physical books they have acquired as long as the physical copy doesn’t circulate and the digital files are protected from redistribution. This is how Internet Archive’s lending library works, and has for more than nine years. Publishers are seeking to shut this library down, claiming copyright law does not allow it. Our response is simple: Copyright law does not stand in the way of libraries’ rights to own books, to digitize their books, and to lend those books to patrons in a controlled way.  

What is at stake with this lawsuit? Every digital learner’s access to library books. That is why the Internet Archive is standing up to defend the rights of  hundreds of libraries that are using Controlled Digital Lending.

“The Authors Alliance has several thousand members around the world and we have endorsed the Controlled Digital Lending as a fair use,” stated Pamela Samuelson, Authors Alliance founder and Richard M. Sherman Distinguished Professor of Law at Berkeley Law. “It’s really tragic that at this time of pandemic that the publishers would try to basically cut off even access to a digital public library like the Internet Archive…I think that the idea that lending a book is illegal is just wrong.”

These publishers clearly intend this lawsuit to have a chilling effect on Controlled Digital Lending at a moment in time when it can benefit digital learners the most. For students and educators, the 2020 fall semester will be unlike any other in recent history. From K-12 schools to universities, many institutions have already announced they will keep campuses closed or severely limit access to communal spaces and materials such as books because of public health concerns. The conversation we must be having is: how will those students, instructors and researchers access information — from textbooks to primary sources? Unfortunately, four of the world’s largest book publishers seem intent on undermining both libraries’ missions and our attempts to keep educational systems operational during a global health crisis.

Ten percent of the world’s population experience disabilities that impact their ability to read. For these learners, digital books are a lifeline. The publishers’ lawsuit against the Internet Archive calls for the destruction of more than a million digitized books.

The publishers’ lawsuit does not stop at seeking to end the practice of Controlled Digital Lending. These publishers call for the destruction of the 1.5 million digital books that Internet Archive makes available to our patrons. This form of digital book burning is unprecedented and unfairly disadvantages people with print disabilities. For the blind, ebooks are a lifeline, yet less than one in ten exists in accessible formats. Since 2010, Internet Archive has made our lending library available to the blind and print disabled community, in addition to sighted users. If the publishers are successful with their lawsuit, more than a million of those books would be deleted from the Internet’s digital shelves forever.

I call on the executives at Hachette, HarperCollins, Wiley, and Penguin Random House to come together with us to help solve the pressing challenges to access to knowledge during this pandemic. Please drop this needless lawsuit.

106 thoughts on “Libraries lend books, and must continue to lend books: Internet Archive responds to publishers’ lawsuit

  1. Pingback: Internet Archive Files Response in Copyright Lawsuit | LJ infoDOCKET

  2. David Hetherington

    Wonderful stuff for public domain books from 200 years ago. However, what is the plan to not cut the economic legs out from underneath struggling independent authors and small publishers who actually need the revenue from book sales to put groceries on the table?

    It all sounds wonderful and high-minded, but if the libraries dry up the ability of writers to create and get paid for books, over time we won’t have books. Something that even Amazon is obviously becoming aware of.

    Reply
      1. Chuck

        Agreed! With tbe Covid-19 pandemic it is difficult and unsafe to go into public libraries. Digital borrowing helps with keeping people that conginue to want to read and may no longer have disposable income safe. A true artist understands this, many of which most likely borrowed a book or two while researching for their own books.

        Reply
    1. Alexandra Evans

      If the idea of building libraries were so ill-advised it would have well been aborted decades, if not centuries, ago. Establishments with free books are needed not only for visitors to be allowed to read certain books for free, but because (1) they help new and emerging authors have their works enjoyed, evaluated and acknowledged by a larger community than those who can afford to have their own copies.

      Besides, (2) it is not unlawful for a library institution to lend books whose authors are deceased and whose copyrights have been transferred wholly or in part to their publishers and/or still in circulation commercially for the time being (as are the cases of ‘Lord of the Flies’ and ‘The Great Gatsby’, both of which yet enjoy being top best-sellers). The sales of these books are certainly not to be affected by acts of lending a limited number of copies to a thus limited number of people as no library can afford to have so many copies to throw around as they please (as for the case of the books’ digital versions, this is lawfully controlled by recognised institutions, including IA).

      Not in the least, the majority of books endorsed to be loaned by the Internet Archive are entries that have actually been withdrawn from its normal lending service at a recognised library. Detailed information for this can be found easily in each ditigised copy that IA owns. They are not works created by new and emerging authors who need to make a living, nor do they remain in print solely by the efforts of fledgling publishers. The use of them in education, research and even journalism cannot at all be condemned for any of the causes presented in the lawsuits against IA.

      Reply
    2. Petrik

      I purchase lots of books (non-fiction), much to my wife’s disgust. But I prefer to have some idea of what’s inside. Borrowing from a library lets me do this. Once I determine it is of use and I wish to have it on hand I will go and purchase it. Not much different from browsing books in a bookstore. Quite often the books I get are also out of print so being able to see what I am getting before shelling out abnormal fees for used second hand books with elevated prices due to rarity, such previewing is a must.

      Reply
      1. Melvyn Ingram

        I totally agree with Petrik, I do same with factual, historical and art books, This way I do get see inside…

        Reply
    3. mrl

      Libraries have been around forever. You probably live close to one or two. And yet publishers continue to sell books. So what is your point?

      Reply
    4. Hans Schnakenhals

      Since when do libraries only feature 200 year old books and where is your evidence that libraries “cut the economics legs out from underneath struggling independent authors and small publishers”? It is not small publishers who brought this court case. It’s the behemoths of the industry.

      Reply
    5. Bob

      Exactly. As an a small author I find it so depressing to see the rich folks in Silicon Valley treat us this way. The IA is supported by the big tech companies that are all several orders of magnitude richer and more powerful than any book publisher. And most authors are essentially small businesses.

      I used to have a warm feeling toward the IA. Now they just seem like they’re jumping on the anti-copyright model that made the tech companies so rich.

      Reply
      1. Jim senato

        nemo did you even read the article before this they want all digital copies (650 million ) destroyed amazon and apple and someone else I forget at the moment had a big fight a few years ago over the total control of the selling of digital books.

        Reply
      2. Steve

        The fact that publishers are taking action suggests it’s not books that are hundreds of years old and out of copyright. Any attempt to do that would be so ridiculous it would be futile. It would be laughed out of court.

        Writing is a skill. All writers deserve to be paid for their work. Most writers struggle financially at the best of times. The people who can make a living from writing alone are few and far between.

        I don’t know about how it works in other countries but, in the UK, writers receive an annual royalty payment via the Authors Licencing and Collecting Society (ALCS). The money is collected from all the libraries in the UK and is based on how many times their work has been borrowed/photocopied during the year. It’s a compensation writers deserve. Would you expect a paint manufacturer to let people raid its warehouse and steal cans of paint because they were staying home and beautifying their homes?

        The Internet Archive is quick to ask its users for donations. Perhaps it should donate a portion of that money to the writer’s whose work it’s distributing free of charge. It’s a game of rob the writer.

        Reply
        1. Thomas W Frank

          Steve,
          I do historical and genealogical research. There are many books that are still in copyright but no longer in print or easily accessible. The only way to see these books is to travel, sometimes thousands of miles, to a library holding them. Other reference books may still be in print but so specialized in nature that they are not held by most community libraries and are too expensive for the average person to purchase for a short-term reference. Borrowing such works through a program such as this is the only practical way to bring these scholarly works to the desks of those requiring them. Perhaps there could be a separate category for in-print fiction or books that are within a certain price range and widely available. Such books could be borrowed at a fee – a portion of which would go to the author. Also, I would not mind paying a nominal fee such as $1.00 to borrow a book that is still in print for a fixed period of time.
          Respectfully,
          Tom Frank

          Reply
      3. Ramona Sky

        So far in history, libraries have existed for a while and I don’t think they’ve been harmful to authors overall.

        I support the Internet Archive and CDL 100%. If it’s ‘high-minded’ to want people to get to read, then I guess I’m high-minded.

        Reply
    6. EE

      You are looking at it sideways. The library isn’t doing anything that the library hasn’t done for centuries. The only difference is it’s a digital copy that is being lent instead of a physical one. It was still purchased either by the library or by a donor who gave it to the library.

      CDL only lends out the number of digital copies that the library has paid for (either in physical or digital form). It’s not an unlimited thing.

      Really what this does is increase exposure for those those independent authors. I have purchased many books after reading them from a library lend because I want to support the authors I enjoy.

      Reply
    7. Mr U.

      You make it sound as if libraries are a new thing, but struggling independent authors and small publishers have always had to coexist with libraries, accepting the pros & cons of that arrangement.

      One would have thought Controlled Digital Lending (CDL), being a set of completely arbitrary, artificial restrictions which mimic the limitations of physical lending, would be fairly well received, but I guess ya can’t please everybody.

      As more and more publishing moves to digital, it does not make sense for libraries to provide their necessary public services only in the physical realm; there must be a path forward for them to operate legitimately and responsibly in the digital realm. And the terms cannot be fairly dictated only by the publishers, nor exclusively by Luddite authors’ “alliances” and “guilds”.

      Digital cannot be a place where there is no room for lending; the public, as well as authors & publishers, are entitled to the same benefits from digital libraries as they are from physical ones. So the question is how to best go about making digital lending work for everyone, the public most of all, at least as well as it works for physical. After literally decades to get their act together, the big-name publishers have come up only extremely lopsided, expensive arrangements with libraries, and everyone else came up with a big fat nothing-burger. CDL is a good-faith compromise offered by the Internet Archive. Thus far, it seems to work really well. But it seems some are not interested in compromise, and are determined to hyperbolically paint all libraries as the enemy, ripping food from the mouths of starving children.

      My comments on these topics are usually met with snide remarks about I must be some teenager who just wants everything for free, and that I just don’t understand what it’s like to be a creator. Well, I’m 49 and a published musician & photographer. My wife is a an author via a major publisher. We’re both 100% pro-library. She does have some mixed feelings, but she will never side with the plaintiffs in these lawsuits against the role of libraries in society, digital or physical. When her books aren’t selling well, she knows that has nothing to do with libraries.

      Reply
      1. Judy Meyer

        They’re not free. The taxpayers pay for each digital copy the library purchases. I listen to audiobooks daily and when I finish them, I “return” it to the library. I can only borrow the book for up to 3 weeks. If the library has only 10 books (for example), then I have to wait for one to become available.

        Reply
    8. David Brooks

      David. Imagine a planet Earth where the primary goal is to enable easy and free access to all information ever created or assimilated. Imagine how much better life on this planet would be if there were no financial restrictions on learning. Instead, we live in a capitalistic world in which education is restricted by cost. And look at the effects. Is the world you live in better off due to the poor having little to no access to information? That is the question you must have for yourself. We must enable a world or system that rewards providers of education and also provides all levels of education to all people. This where we as a global society must unite and determine where we want our taxes to be spent. On military and corruption or on education for all.

      Reply
    9. R. Davies

      Physical libraries seem to have been operating for a long long time, without ‘drying up the ability of writers to create and get paid for books’. There doesn’t seem to be any difference to me whether the book that’s lent is made of paper or is virtual, if there are restrictions on the lending (eg. time limits and the number of people it can be lent to at one time) – and this is how the Archive operates.

      Reply
    10. Arthur Lucas

      The UK Public Lending Right pays authors whose physical books are borrowed from libraries, and I think, but have not checked, that it also applies to Controlled Digital Lending. This provides a continuing income stream for authors fromtheor intellectual property. It ought to be possibel for similar legislation to be iontroduced elsewhere.

      Reply
    11. Clint Robinstein

      I don’t see how it dry’s up the ability of writers to get paid for books. I’ve used the IA and apps like Libby with work with my local public library to make some of their catalog available online. It’s been a great resource, but it’s just like borrowing a book from the library. There is still only one or two copies available at a time and my son has some books on hold that we are going to be waiting for at least a month or more before we can borrow it.

      Now, IA did do something unique back in May by removing all the lending restrictions because of the coronavirus, but I don’t believe the lawsuit addresses that, but the more widespread practice of Controlled Digital Lending.

      Reply
    12. Klaus Bailly

      Every single book that is lent out by CDL was bought before it was given to the Internet Archive. Your argument, if taken seriously, would call for closing down all public libraries, not only the Internet Archive.

      Reply
    13. Saurabh

      Dear sir,
      Then there shouldn’t be a concept of “library”…
      Everyone like you, “if” you have had a privilege of buying the books and not depended on your university’s library, should have some empathy for those students also besides these “writers” to consider that all do not born with a silver spoon…

      Reply
    14. Chris

      Remember, you only have 1 hour to borrow a book through archive as well as other reputable sites. If anything, this is free advertising for those “independent authors” as you put it. When I’m reading a 700 page novel, I usually use archive.org and borrow the book for an hour to see if it’s worth purchasing. Yes, Amazon allows a “sample” for each book. However, these samples tend to be insufficient for my determination in purchasing any given novel.

      Reply
    15. Helena Constantine

      Those aren’t the kinds under discussion. I use the Internet archive extensively to read scholarly books written in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. It is especially invaluable now that my academic library is closed and nothing can be had from it. For the first time I’ve writing an article that is sourced entirely from JSTOR and the Internet Archive. Nobody is every going to make a cent from selling these long out of print books even thought hey are still under copyright, but they are vital for the kind of documentation required in scholarly work.

      Reply
    16. Mary Escano

      It’s not the libraries that pushes an upcoming author to the breadline, it is the publisher themselves. Think of it in music terms as the equivalent of a record label. Libraries function more as a radio station and a bookstore as the record store.
      Libraries get their books from the publishers and lend it to the public, especially those who do not have enough budget to buy a book ie someone with low income, a student, or a retired person.
      I just hope that the publishers would see the sense.

      Reply
    17. Robert Lanxon

      If the lending is controlled, there shouldn’t be anymore of a problem than your local library owning the same book and loaning it to their patrons. Frequently what happens is when people discover and author for the first time at a library, they are more inclined to actually purchase books by that author.

      I will note a further advantage of having the Archive during this pandemic: Interlibrary lend between libraries has all but ceased. At this point, I can no longer request a book from a library outside of my consortium. It is essential to have the option of pointing my patrons so a resource they can access online.

      Reply
    18. Shannon

      Digital content is controlled via technology. I am attaching a very good article about Library lending that explains the situation quite well, including how DRM or Digital Rights Management controls who can access this content, how they can access it and for how long. It’s complicated, but the copyrighted material is protected for the author, and let’s be realistic, the publisher. $$

      If you scroll down after the info about DRM and you will see some FAQ. Very interedyting information, such as how libraries have to pay 2 or 3 times as much as a consumer for their ebooks, only one copy can be lent out at a time, etc.
      https://www.denverlibrary.org/blog/books-research/lauren/libraries-and-ebooks-introduction

      Reply
    19. Todd Milner

      Your statement is a bogus misdirection of the real issue, which is the culture of book lending that this country, and the world, has promoted since at least the time of Benjamin Franklin. A library is a library. A rose by any other name is still a rose. The Catholic church, back in the time of Gutenberg, tried to prevent this new and dangerous dissemination on a mass scale of knowledge. These publishing houses simply continue that tradition. And on a wider note, their attempt at restricting the written word ties into the current culture of corporate conservatisms’ attack on The First Amendment in general. Writers will still write. And if it’s good their material will still be bought. Nothing changes with a continuation of libraries. Everything changes dangerously with any suppression of libraries.

      Reply
    20. David Fordyce

      The Internet Archive is fantastic for providing a number of resources we would not have access to otherwise. I fully support it.

      With respect to your second paragraph, the “libraries” would not dry up the methods of payment for authors. What is really going on is that most people these days read stuff from their phones, tablets, or computers. They do not understand or care about holding an actual book in their hands and have the joy of reading that I think you and I both do. To their detriment.

      Reply
    21. David Kamholz

      It sounds like you’re essentially saying that libraries cannot own books — in fact, that people in general cannot own books. Do you believe that all libraries have been violating copyright for the past 100 years?

      Reply
    22. c

      I believe that a author deserves to be paid for their work. BUT 200 years!!! Tell your great-grandchildren that they can work/create themselves. For the rest of society residuals don’t go through generations.

      Reply
    23. Harmon

      If you want to find someone to blame for the struggle of independent authors, blame these publishers and not the 4 people borrowing a book online.

      Reply
    24. Bill Kelly

      In the days when compromise and negotiation was possible a system could be worked out where:
      1. Publishers can sign an agreement to allow their books / or selected titles to be offered digitally.
      2. An author wanting to have his/her books uploaded digitally would override #1. Or allow a ‘sampling’ of their works to be uploaded.
      3. Small publishers (or any author) can prohibit their books from being uploaded digitally.
      4. Internet Archive would publish a list of “Allowed/Prohibited” publishers/authors so consumers would know where they stood.

      For what’s its worth, I have purchased hard copies or digital copies of books after finding an author I enjoyed after reading one of his/her books I downloaded from Internet Archive. In most cases, I think, few authors have their complete works available on Internet Archive.

      Reply
    25. Gerard Arthus

      The authors can self-publish and let their ideas compete in the real world. Ninety (90) percent of the profit goes to the publishers and not the authors in most cases. Actually, there are millions of Public Domain works out their if you look at publications before 1989. Where did you get the 200 year figure from? I self-publish all of my stuff and have even seen others selling many of the items on Amazon for 99 cents. Art for sale is just in many cases a higher form of prostitution. I am more interested in the ideas circulating and having as many people as possible to see them. Copyright for 125 years…That is insane; once again we have those in academia lining their pockets and using all sorts of legal tactics to obfuscate and extract money from the people.

      Gerry
      Garthus 01 August 2020

      Reply
    26. Jane

      I’m a librarian in a high school and I spend thousands on newly published books every year that are then available for students and staff to borrow.

      I can tell you for sure, if libraries couldn’t circulate books, there would be next to no market whatsoever for writers and publishers. Libraries promote and circulate new books: they are the market makers for the publishing industry. That goes for ebooks as well as print books.

      You can find hard data for my assertion with a quick Google search.

      Reply
    27. Donald Dienst

      The solution is simple. Copyright is broken and should be limited to 20 years like a patent. Originally it was only 14 years anyway and that was when we had hand printing presses and horse and buggy for transportation.

      Reply
  3. Pingback: Internet Archives Fires Back in Lawsuit Over Covid-19 Emergency Library

  4. Pingback: Day in Review (July 27–31, 2020) - Association of Research Libraries

  5. Keltie Harding

    If there is an online petition for the cause, I
    would be honoured to sign. I’m just one voice, but you have my support.
    -Keltie Harding
    NB, Canada.

    Reply
    1. Aldo Aspilcueta

      Hi Keltie,
      Me too! It’s a big good thing that libraries still may lend books, especially in digital format

      Reply
    1. Todd Milner

      I agree with your sentiment, but take exception with your implied requirement of membership for the loaning of ebooks. Being a privacy advocate who is in total opposition to The Patriot Act, I argue against the membership thing. For ebooks, to “retrieve” a book past it’s due date is a simple programmable matter. The book has a “disappear” algorithm attached to it at the time of loaning.

      Reply
  6. cpascal

    From what I see, Internet Archive is only doing digitally what brick and mortar libraries have been doing for hundreds of years.

    Reply
  7. Debbie Herbert

    What about the revenue you are taking from authors who(usually) already earn a small income for their work?

    Reply
  8. Sandra Mian

    I will stand with Internet Archive and I will continue to donate as much as I can. People are questioning here if this is affecting small and independent publishers and writers but it is not the case. They are not complaining, the BIG ONES are. The most important scientific articles are closed behind high-priced platforms and I’m almost sure the ones that have done the work – sometimes years of investigation – are not having the lion share. We should create means by which small and independent publishers and writers can earn their living, for sure. But we cannot have those giants making profits with knowledge that should be fairly available for all.
    If there is any petition that we could sign and help to spread the news I would be most glad to sign and help.
    Thank you for the wonderful work.

    Reply
  9. GERARDO RIVERA NAVARRO

    Your service is fundamental for the diffusion of science and the pleasure of reading. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for support.

    Reply
  10. Aqib Rizvi

    Need to understand stance of “Publishers”.
    Do they want money for every book “sold” or for every “reading” of the book sold?
    If it is for every book sold, then it should be fine to lend the books regardless of the medium, physical book or digital book.

    Reply
  11. Eduard Ponuzhdaev

    A lot of thanks for the GREAT & UNIQUE CHANCE to read many useful and actual books! If there is an online petition for the cause, I would be honoured to sign.

    Reply
  12. John

    The public interest is paramount for an informed society. Fair use doctrine I thought might address this. If you have a right to use intellectual property under this doctrine, how could you use it if you couldn’t research it? I’m no expert, but it seems you couldn’t do satire or even wright research papers without having to purchase every possible piece you wanted to use.

    Another disturbing angle, the books we donate to libraries, to juvenile detention centers and disadvantaged communities. I believe medical book publishers flat bar reselling. How it’s enforcing I’ve no idea but it certainly opens the way to restricting access to media. It seems like the publishers should be made to formally and explicitly explain how the most remote or disadvantaged people could learn without hard copies. I think they should explain how the broader public interest of an informed and educated public is served by cutting off knowledge. Legally, they won’t have to give such explicit answers except some counter argument about research and writers no longer having incentive to write and publish. Maybe in some cases.

    When people lose jobs, are homeless or under strict budgets, Retired and can’t get out, getting access to a lynchpin of staying educated should not be reduced in its ability OR capacity to do so. It’s not enough to say borrow a book from a neighbor or find it at a garage sale. Brick and mortar stores are vanishing in many counties. It’s not enough to say, well…we’ll work on that problem but cut off libraries access to digital items first…Trust us

    Reply
  13. diane aleman

    We are in a modern world. Technology is how we must get information and that comes mainly from books.
    The libraries are currently shut down as well as schools.
    We must continue to let libraries be able to provide these books. I know that many books have a long wait list.
    I often go out to buy a book. Please let us continue to have access to library books on line.

    Reply
  14. Sharon Hunt

    You have my total support in defending your rights to lend digitized books and materials in a controlled environment. So often, I have been successful in finding materials on your site that are no longer available for purchase. If not for your service, where would I go to further my research. I commend your service!

    Reply
  15. Michael Metelits

    Two types of authors who may be harmed by controlled digital lending, come to mind. The first is fiction authors who hope to make a financial killing with a best seller. The other type is the authors of textbooks (they normally enjoy a rather restricted market) that the authors revise periodically and make required texts for classes they teach. Have you seen the prices for textbooks? I have great sympathy for the first category of authors. Perhaps copyright law could stand revision that would limit ownership rights to the lifetime of authors of works of fiction.

    As for nonfiction works of possible academic use as required textbooks, the cost of such books can become an additional burden that adds to the huge indebtedness that many students accumulate over four years of university study. Yes, there is a need for some kinds of nonfiction works to be updated as knowledge in various fields of study advances. Perhaps there would be room to urge publishers to provide digital access at a reduced price for bona fide scholars and teachers. As a published author myself of a specialized historical study of very likely limited distribution, I can honestly say that my motives to write and publish were simply the hope to put some ideas before the public on a permanent basis. On the other hand the publisher has certain cost to recover that would be seriously reduced if such works were offered as digital copies.

    There is another category of person for whom the cost of books, old and new, creates a serious obstacle. I refer here to people doing serious research. Save for the independently wealthy, the need to travel around the world and set up living arrangements in other countries, just to see and take notes on older specialized works, becomes a financial burden that does two things. It can chill the resolve of the researcher to pursue what may be an important and widely useful topic, simply because of the expense involved. Second, it crowds the ranks of those who seek scholarships or grants to undertake such research. While competition as a means of improving academic excellence is laudable, the severe limitations imposed on granting institutions by travel and residency costs strongly reduces the number of grants that such institutions can award. Making research materials available digitally makes great sense.

    Finally, I want to address a feature of the “publish-or-perish” aspect of attaining academic tenure. A large number of aspirants seek to publish both articles and books. The articles appear in journals. If a faculty member or student needs to see a copy of the article years after its publication, either their academic institution has to pay a large annual sum for blanket permission for members to download a digitized copy of said an article, while those who have no such affiliation must pay a relatively enormous price to see that article. While I recognize the costs involved for a journal to digitize an article, there is no reason why that area of activities should become a profit center for the institution.

    Reply
  16. Eugene Reagan

    Of course, the recent change by the Internet Archive to allow most books to be borrowed for only one hour makes this whole discussion pointless.

    Reply
  17. daniel brown

    Useful to know the names of the publishers. I’ve taken a note of them and will not by purchasing books that they publish as long as they prosecute this case. Nor will I be specifying editions published by them as texts for the university students I teach. OUP, for example, publishes editions of texts that Penguin offers also. It is possible to find ways around buying books from the four publishers who are prosecuting this unfair campaign. In the past I have ordered hard copies of books after discovering them on Internet Archive. I think that these publishers are being rather foolish, as well as mean.

    Reply
  18. Karen Woodbyrne

    The publisher’s law suit, in times of Covid, , shows how far out of line and reason some USA businesses have become under the pampering. encouraging, and unresponsive to the citizens’ needs business climate set by our Federal Government’s leadership.
    I will NEVER AGAIN even consider buying a book published by Hatchette, Harper Collins, Wiley, or Penguin Random House. This lawsuit is so unethical that those companies do not deserve to be in business.
    Please start a petition all people who care about literacy and education can sign. Or, let us know what we can do to help, especially if we have been left poor by Covid and can’t donate money. Given what US citizens have brainlessly elected, education and teaching people to analyze and think is more important than ever.

    Reply
  19. Andres V Galia

    My full support to TIA for using Controlled Digital Lending! It is a shame that some people want to stop that! What is the difference between any library lending digital content and TIA?

    Reply
  20. Peter Bishop

    I still buy books as well as use analogue libraries as well as digital. I prefer to support all mediums.
    I can’t see how they will stop at digital. If they win, then surely they have a case for paper libraries as well?
    It’s the thin end of the wedge if they are successful.

    Reply
  21. Sandra Woodhouse

    I don’t see the difference in borrowing a book from a digital library as opposed to borrowing one from a bricks and mortar one. Except the ability to reach more people all over the world who otherwise wouldn’t have access. I still love the feel of a book in my hand but most of my purchase are on my tablet. The publishers are just going to have to move with the times.

    Reply
  22. Saurabh

    Internet Archive is a good platform for those people who want to explore the world of knowledge without a cost…
    It works same like a library of a university works…
    It is very illogical for these publishers to file a lawsuit against the Archives…
    Hope that Sanity prevails and they bring back their selfish lawsuit…otherwise the next would be the universities’ libraries…

    Reply
  23. Gary Long

    The Internet Archive was lending a book I wrote, but they never bought a copy to digitize so far as I can tell, and in any event, in the country I live in, digitizing a book in which copyright is still in force, without the publisher’s consent, is illegal unless for personal use only. My publisher will sell digital rights. They were not contacted by the Internet Archive. I think this is what causes problems: an organization unilaterally declaring they have a right to do something. An Internet Library is a bit different than your local public library in that it permits anyone anywhere access. Why would somebody buy my book when they can get it free? In my country (Canada) authors get compensation for the use of books in libraries through a Public Lending Right payment system. There needs to be something like that for the Internet Archive to compensate authors.

    Reply
  24. Kate

    Writers, their assigns & estates need to receive their money. That’s the bottom line here.

    No matter how you say it and put such wonderfully pro-library ideas out in the Internet—- you need to remember that writers and illustrators have contracts From their publishers ( for their own protection or sadly their peril). Authors have copyright protection of their works.
    They need to cover themselves in their contracts. If they signed for a published run of 10, 000 paperbacks and the demand is greater— that’s not a signal for anyone in the world to go grab that work and freely start digital distribution for anyone down the line and over the years.

    It just isn’t. You know that.

    That’s why those digital copies you speak of —can’t be duplicated by the borrowers. You do OWE The copyright holders for the number YOU have duplicated by digital means. Otherwise you are just the same as a boot-leggers making copies of music from a concert attended
    just one time.?

    I’m a librarian with a MLS degree and experience in school and public libraries. I side with the writers, authors, illustrators, musicians and media creators. Certainly I’m not against distribution of knowledge— but I am against not paying the pipers— the writers and artists.

    It’s similar to gallery artists who sell a painting and it changes hands over and over throughout the years. The artists should receive some royalty payment upon each sale of the original. Artists do maintain copyright over subsequent prints and digital use. But— The original —they get nothing——as it makes it’s way through the world.
    Of course when the price of the artwork increases over the repeated sales that is helpful for the artist’s subsequent sales. However there is a need for royalties paid out also. Like — on Internet photo-image sites. even the model in the photo gets a model fee! The individual artists are simply not as effective in discovering this misuse as are music publishing industry and professional photographers. Are writers And book illustrators any better at it? Nope.

    For books—EACH and EVERY new, archived or out-of-print or digital book, regardless of it being in or out of copyright—regardless if you are creating and distributing digital copies— regardless if it’s “For Free”— you need to pay the creator. If you are not part of the original creator’s contract—you need to pay. Seek out the creator or the estate and negotiate. Yes, do that—just like semi-professional musicians and local play directors need to do if they want to play Roberts Flack’s songs in an outdoor park concert or put on a production of Oklahoma. It’s not free!

    Even if your digital book copies are coded to disappear after a certain length of time or are constructed to not be duplicated —payment had to be going back to the original creator for each one you put out their in the world.

    Publishers should have some money out of this too- but it should be illegal for a publisher to refuse these rights of payment within a contract to a writer, illustrator or … any artist as well as their assigns and heirs. Why not? I challenge you.

    Reply
    1. Klaus Bailly

      “For books—EACH and EVERY … book, regardless of it being in or out of copyright … you need to pay the creator.” At present, copyright in most countries is 70 years after the death of the author. If I should have to pay the creator for out-of-copyright books, could you please give me the bank account dates of Mr Shakespeare?

      Reply
  25. Andrew Partington

    It’s a very nasty lawsuit aimed at an organisation that’s doing a lot of good. Digital lending was clearly well thought out in order not to infringe publishers rights, but they still want to stop it. I can’t see that it hurts anyone. It does however help people unable to get to the library physically to be able to borrow those books.

    Reply
  26. Toni

    This is disheartening. I know it’s the same thing as “free” music. Or is it? Recording artists get royalties; a mere pittance compared to “production costs”. So the authors of copyrighted books are not getting paid for the books we check out to read. I suspect what it boils down to is the publisher is not getting paid for the books we check out to read. And there are a lot of books that can only be checked out for an hour or 13 days. Several of the research books I have used lately fall into that category. If I didn’t have access to them at internet archive I would have no access at all. Not every library has every book. And inter library load does not work where I live.

    Reply
  27. DR. ROGER BARNABY

    WE AS A SOCIETY WORLDWIDE HAVE MOVED INTO A DIGITAL WORLD. WE MUST EMBRACE IT AND WELCOME IT AS IT IS A REAL NEED TO SO MANY INDIVIDUALS WHO WISH TO READ BOOKS, ALL BOOKS, IN THEIR HOMES OR OFFICES WITHOUT TRAVELING TO A LIBRARY. DIGITAL LEARNING IS NOW A REGULAR PRACTICE DUE TO THE CURRENT COVID-19 PANDEMIC. MANY OF THE OLD TRADITIONS OF THE PAST, CLASS ROOM LEARNING WITH FACULTY PRESENT, GOING TO THE LOCAL LIBRARY, MANY OF THESE HONORED AND RESPECTED TRADITIONS ARE NOW CHANGED. THIS CHANGE WILL BE LASTING AND INCREASING OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL YEARS. CONTROLLED DIGITAL LENDING BY US LIBRARIES, AND INDEED LIBRARIES THROUGHOUT THE WORLD IS NOW AN ACCEPTABLE STANDARD PRACTICE AND SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED AND EXPANDED. WE CANNOT GO BACK TO THE CANDLE AND LANTERN AGE, WE MUST EMBRACE AND FLOWER IN THE DIGITAL ACCESSIBILITY MODEL AND NOT LOOK BACKWARD TO THE AGE OF THE QUILL PEN BUT MUST MOVE FORWARD. LEGISLATION MUST BE PASSED TO ENCOURAGE THIS TRANSFORMATION FROM AN ADHERENCE TO ONLY HAVING A BOOK IN HAND TO PROGRESS TO HAVING A COMPUTER, PHONE, KINDLE OR OTHER DIGITAL READER IN HAND TO DISCOVER NEW IDEAS AND EXPAND OUR MINDS TO EMBRACE THE CURRENT WORLD WE LIVE IN AND OT EXPAND OUT INTO THE FUTURE WHICH BECKONS US AND URGES US TO LEARN AND TO BE BETTER STEWARDS OF OUR CITY, STATE, COUNTRY AND WORLD. TRYING TO HOLD BACK DIGITAL LEARNING IS SIMILAR TO TRYING TO STOP A HURRICANE. IT JUST WILL NOT WORK. THESE FEW PROFIT ORIENTED PROTECTIVE PUBLISHERS JUST NEED TO GET ON BOARD AND DISCOVER THAT THE ENTIRE WORLD ABOUT THEM HAS CHANGED. A SYSTEM OF FULL ROYALTIES TO THE AUTHORS CAN BE PUT INTO PLACE AND I AM SURE TRADITIONAL BOOK PUBLISHING WILL CONTINUE. I FOR ONE LOVE TO PICK UP A BOOK, FEEL IT, ENJOY IT AND IT’S PAGE TURNING EXCITEMENT AND JOY, BUT IN MY LATER YEARS OF LIFE I DO REALIZE WE MUST PROVIDE MANY WAYS OF VIEWING BOOKS AND ONLINE AND DIGITAL RESOURCES ARE NEEDED IN OUR CURRENT WORLD. A GOOD EXAMPLE IS RIGHT NOW, OUR LIBRARIES ARE CLOSED DOWN, SO ARE THE BOOKSTORES, SO OUR BEST SOURCE OF RECEIVING THE KNOWLEDGE AND IDEAS PRESENT IN BOOKS IS TO ACCESS THEM ON LINE, USING THE CURRENT TOOLS OF DIGITAL READING, COMPUTERS, DIGITAL READERS, KINDLES, CELL PHONES, EVEN SMART TV’S AND OTHER DEVICES INCLUDING SOME VARIETIES OF SMART WATCHES (THE OLD DICK TRACY COMIC STRIPS WHICH FEATURED THIS PHENOMENON NOW A REALITY.) WHAT WAS ONLY A VISION AND AN IDEA HALF OF A CENTURY AND A CENTURY AGO ARE NOW EMPLOYED DAILY IN OUR CURRENT MODEL LEARNING METHODOLOGIES INCLUDING CONTROLLED DIGITAL LEARNING AND DIGITAL BOOKS PROVIDED BY OUR LOCAL LIBRARIES AND THE INTERNET ARCHIVE AND OTHER SOURCES AS AVAILABLE TO US PATRONS OF THE ARTS AND READING AND LEARNING. THE PUBLISHERS LAWSUIT IS REALLY AN INFRINGEMENT ON US, THE CONSUMERS OF THE INFORMATION IN THESE BOOKS, WHETHER DIGITAL OR IN TRADITIONAL BOOK FORMAT. WHATEVER METHODOLOGY WE AS CONSUMERS WISH TO USE TO VIEW THESE BOOKS CREATED BY INNOVATIVE AND CREATIVE AUTHORS SHOULD BE FULLY AVAILABLE TO US AS WE ARE THE ULTIMATE CONSUMERS OF THIS INFORMATION. THIS LAWSUIT SHOULD BE DISMISSED AS IT IS A THREAT TO PROGRESS AND INNOVATION. I AS A CONSUMER USE BOTH FORMS OF BOOK AND SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE USAGE. INCLUDING MEDICAL AND PUBLIC HEALTH BOOKS AND MEDICAL AND PUBLIC HEALTH SCIENTIFIC JOURNALS, AND ALSO BOOKS OF JUST MODERN AND EARLIER LITERATURE–FICTION AND NON FICTION FOR EDUCATIONAL KNOWLEDGE AND SO OFTEN JUST FOR PLEASURE. I AND OTHER CONSUMERS OF THE KNOWLEDGE IN BOOKS AND ARTICLES SHOULD NOT BE PREVENTED FROM USING THE NEW METHODS OF RECEIVING AND GATHERING INFORMATION AND THE CONTENTS OF BOOKS TO READ IN THE MANNER WE PERSONALLY PREFER. THE PUBLISHERS LAWSUIT SHOULD BE DISMISSED BUT ALSO THESE BOOK PUBLISHERS SHOULD RECEIVE SOME MONETARY REIMBURSEMENT FOR PUBLISHING AND PRINTING THE BOOKS THEY MAKE AVAILABLE. DIGITAL IS NOT IN COMPETITION TO THE TRADITIONAL BOOK, IT IS ANOTHER WAY FOR THE AUTHOR TO FURNISH THE INFORMATION TO US, THE CONSUMER OF KNOWLEDGE IN THESE BOOKS. THANK YOU FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPRESS MY VIEWPOINT. I HAVE BEEN A FACULTY MEMBER AT A MEDICAL SCHOOL AND TAUGHT IN A SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH AT UNIVERSITY AND I AM SPEAKING FROM A LIFETIME AS A TEACHER AND A LIFETIME READER AND LOVER OF BOOKS AND KNOWLEDGE.

    Reply
  28. Cornelia Achenbach

    many of my knitting pattern are in the archive, there is no other place I support Archive (from Germany)Achenbach

    Reply
  29. Friendy Okeke

    These four largest publishers must not ignore the reason for the establishment of Controlled Digital Lending. They should invent new ways to generate income and leave the library system alone.

    Reply
  30. Judith Demaestri

    This is outrageous! Censorship of any form is unacceptable to us Americans,just when children need it the most! Vote Trump 2020!

    Reply
  31. Callahan Burke

    Publishers are understandably opposing this, as it decreases their bottom line. This is the ENTIRE reason for libraries, as I see it. I know I am part of a landslide minority thinking KNOWLEDGE is more important than MONEY.

    Let’s DO IT!

    Reply
  32. GL Stein

    I think this is another ‘Big Brother’ control factor. It’s a reminder of the Nazis burning books! Terrifying possibility!

    Reply
  33. John Russell

    Applying Trump tactics to cow the disseminators of digital books. Perhaps to be expected in these fraught times, but not to be accepted. I support and applaud your stand for the public users of this precious resource. Thank you for your your strength and perseverance in facing down this threat to my, and our, need for digital book access.

    John Russell

    Reply
  34. Gail Rendle

    If Digital Book Lending helps kids with their school work, no one should stand in the way. Their education is needed – HAS to COME FIRST.

    While nothing can replace the feeling of “a book in the hand, to carry and read as one’s time and circumstances permit”, we should not be taking it for granted. It is a Luxury, one of the widest spread luxuries in the world. With Covid-19, it’s a luxury we can’t afford. You can’t read that book if you’re dead! – You can’t even WRITE or PUBLISH that book if you’re dead!

    The future of book publishing, among other businesses, will remain unknown until such time as our experts in Epidemiology and other Scientific communities feel safe in saying, “go ahead and publish – print and sell your books in hard cover, paperback and so forth, there is no longer a threat”. But that day isn’t here yet, and our patience is strained. We need to learn to adapt; to find and use other means to use our facilities, other uses for our machinery and ways to re-fit it for other, perhaps even different kinds of work to support our families. This is not a Little Blip in our lifestyles, this is Big Potatos, and we need to learn to embrace it calmly while thinking Way Outside the Box.

    Reply
  35. JW

    On the contrary. Published have pushed the cost of Scientific publications up to such prohibitive heights (eg. 60 EUR for a short monograph) that private individuals can never afford them. It’s the libraries that buy these papers and “put the bread on the authors’ tables”. Without digital lending their words of wisdom would be read by – nobody.

    Reply
  36. Judith M. Rushing

    This reminds me of the “book burners” of the McCarthy Era. I was in Junior High School when I went to the school library to check out some books. One of them was a romantic story about a young Russian soldier and the girl he was in love with. I had previously enjoyed it, and wanted to read it again. It wasn’t on the shelf, so I asked the librarian to put my name on the hold list for when it was returned. She told me it would not be available to me in the future. It had been “BANNED”!
    Later, I read “Fahrenheit 451″ by Ray Bradbury” and finally understood what was happening.
    I now also understand how publishers of mass media seek to control what people can read. And this is exactly why I support Wikipedia.org, where I can read what I want to read and when I can read it. Anything less undermines our freedom and Democracy!

    Reply
  37. Delsa Johnson-Waddell

    If I listen to a digital book and like it well enough, I buy the hard copy also. I will never replace all my books for digital copies.

    Reply
  38. Kathy Tribble

    I am so grateful that your site exist. I am a teacher in a Montessori Public/Charter school, and when we closed so abruptly March 13th and had to lockdown at home we had learners and myself that needed support for our book club, fortunately I was able to find your website and obtain the book that we were reading and told others (in case they had same dilemma) and fortunately was able to seamlessly carry on our book club virtually, especially important when you are working with “special needs” kiddos which I do. Thank You so much!!!!

    Reply
  39. Ian Cameron

    The publishers’ rationale is interesting. Given that the Open Library lends only books that are not in print, how does it hurt the publishers? AS far as I can see, there are only two possibilities. First, they think they might reprint the books someday. It the vast majority of cases, that’s not going to happen. Secondly, they think that if people did not have access to old books, they would buy new books. In which case, they had better get to work to put all used bookstores out of business. because that’s where recently published books can be found.

    Reply
  40. Michael G McGlasson

    Although I am not a lawyer nor a copyright specialist, it is quite obvious to me that the big publishers want to publish public domain materials as new editions and thus place their own copyright on the material. But with free public domain electronic digital books, this would be redundant and profitless. I say screw the publishers. The main driving force here is good old-fashioned American greed which is slowly destroying American society. As an author myself, do you think any of the involved publishers (Hachette, HarperCollins, Wiley, and Penguin Random House) would publish my original material? Not a chance in Hell. MGM

    Reply
  41. Momoh Ibrahim

    You are really rending a great happening hands. So students still have opportunity to get books online. So affordable way of lending books. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  42. Stephanie Loomis

    Bravo. Information, particularly educational work should be open access. A digital lending library is a starting point. If this country is serious about closing the opportunity gap, then these materials must be available to all, not just a select few.

    Reply
  43. CR Ramsey

    I personally access items that are rather old to do genealogy research, but there must be a way to allow both authors and the general public to benefit from digitized books that are newer.

    Having taught online and received an MBA inline, I am a supporter of online learning, and to do that for the near and more distant future, students will need to be able access those materials they need online. School districts buy textbooks for students and then use them for many years, usually from 5-10 years depending on the subject matter, but probably longer in some school districts. So why can’t they support buying online texts for students in their area to use through Internet Archive? This is what was said in an article I read by Kayla Lowe on “How Often Should Textbooks Be Changed?.” https://www.theclassroom.com/should-textbooks-changed-6905196.html. It might actually provide a savings for school districts.

    “Digital Books
    Digital textbooks don’t have to be changed as often as traditional printed textbooks. Because of their digital format, they can be easily amended and then downloaded again by students and educators. They cost significantly less than traditional books and can incorporate videos, online connectivity and other features that traditional textbooks cannot.”

    I agree with the publishers in that authors cannot be expected to not be paid for their work, but I also agree that with the current pandemic and the growth of online learning in general, new avenues need to be explored and this is not the time for a suit to be brought that limits students’ access to material. All stakeholders should be working together to make this work and be beneficial to all parties.

    Reply
  44. Harriet Brown

    It is absolutely disgraceful that any publisher, commercial or otherwise, should even raise the idea that digital library books are unlawful. Particularly now, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, when many libraries have been closed for months. Self-isolaters have no access to physical copies of library books, and some people have no access long-term.
    I can’t believe this is actually happening. Who are these commercial publishers??
    Digital lending has been unproblematic for years. What’s different about it now? The current situation is most certainly not the time to exercise this trick.
    As a summary, I am horrified.

    Reply
  45. Bert Plante

    We are all use to tipping.
    A way of sending tips.
    Wort discussing and finding ideas for implemention?

    Reply
  46. Ramzan Ali

    I buy OR try to buy the book i read at internet library , It is my way to assess the importance of a book. Internet libraries are advertisement hubs for books. It should charge publishers a fee no matter how small., not the other way round

    Reply
  47. Bent Anker Nielsen

    In Denmark libraries pay authors a fee for the lending of their books (after a system that is renegotiated from time to time, but some authors feel, that they are treated unfairly, I should add – especially the most popular ones, as I recall). I am not familiar with the financing of the Internet Archives (in Denmark we pay for public libraries through our tax) but I really hope, that IA are compensating copywright holders for making their books available. If not, I hope the law suit will lead to a settlement to that effect.
    Bent Anker Nielsen

    Reply
  48. Maricela Martinez

    I noticed some comments saying that publishers and authors do rely on book sales to make a living and I get that but I’ll check out as many books from the library but if I love the book I buy it, if I love the author I buy it. I want to read the books I love over and over again any time I want and I want to own my favorite series. I am a bookworm, a bibliophile it is my dream to create my own personal library of personal favorites and career related books. If publishers and authors want to make money from sells, I am their target audience and I take great offense to trying to shut down any kind of library. If I didn’t read library books as a kid I wouldn’t want to read and own my own books as an adult.

    Reply
  49. Ralph Baker

    Libraries and writers have co-existed for at least a hundred years. Libraries are still here. Writers are still here. In fact I am sure there are more writers now than one hundred years ago. Libraries create READERS. READERS turn into BOOK LOVERS.BOOK LOVERS BUY BOOKS. I am a heavy library user and when I owned a home, I also had more than one room completely full of books I have purchased. This is solely about the greed of publishers.

    Reply
  50. Joanne Agate

    I nearly jumped for joy when I found archive.org a few years ago. I’m an ex-American living in Belgium. The only books in English that are available in some bookstores are bestsellers, which I’m not interested in. The library across the street from me has about 90 books in English, nearly all of them being books that were mandatory reading when I was in high school 40 years ago.

    I think that I’ve downloaded at least a hundred history books from the 17th and 18th century from archive.org that are copyright-free. I’ve also digitally borrowed at least 40 books that I had been looking for for many years. Just because a 35 year old book is still copyrighted, doesn’t mean that it can be found on Amazon or on used book websites. And lastly, there have been at least 10 times where I’ve borrowed a newer book that I’d never heard of, read it and then bought it from Amazon.

    Digital lending is simply wonderful! I would actually be heartbroken if there was no such thing as digital lending. Basically it’s my lifeline to the English speaking book world. Thank you to everyone that makes digital lending possible!!

    Reply
  51. saghi

    I want to thank you sincerely for your website and lending library because in our place we can’t use public library or we have rare materials so we couldn’t ever access to good media, and nevertheless we cant use printed media during this pandemic. May all of these problems be solved and internet archive achieve the best place between other libraries.

    Reply
  52. Pingback: Khrys’presso du lundi 3 août 2020 – Framablog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *