Today’s lower court decision in Hachette v. Internet Archive is a blow to all libraries and the communities we serve. This decision impacts libraries across the US who rely on controlled digital lending to connect their patrons with books online. It hurts authors by saying that unfair licensing models are the only way their books can be read online. And it holds back access to information in the digital age, harming all readers, everywhere.
But it’s not over—we will keep fighting for the traditional right of libraries to own, lend, and preserve books. We will be appealing the judgment and encourage everyone to come together as a community to support libraries against this attack by corporate publishers.
We will continue our work as a library. 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.
Statement from Internet Archive founder, Brewster Kahle: “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.
This ruling is a blow for libraries, readers, and authors and we plan to appeal it.”
We stood up for the digital rights of all libraries today in court! The Southern District of New York heard oral argument in Hachette v. Internet Archive, the lawsuit against our library and the longstanding library practice of controlled digital lending, brought by 4 of the world’s largest publishers.
We fought hard for libraries today, and we’re proud of how well we were able to represent the value of controlled digital lending to the communities we serve.
While we wait for the judge’s decision, here’s how you can show your support:
Join the Battle for Libraries ✊ The internet advocacy group Fight for the Future has launched the Battle for Libraries, an online rally in support of the Internet Archive and digital lending. Visit the action hub to engage with other supporters & share messages with your followers across social media to spread awareness about our fight. Get started now!
Read a book! 📕 Check out a book from Open Library and read it online using the library practice of controlled digital lending.
Brewster Kahle is the founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive. Brewster spoke at the press conference hosted by Internet Archive ahead of oral argument in Hachette v. Internet Archive.
The Internet is failing us. The Internet Archive has tried, along with hundreds of other libraries, to do something about it.
A ruling in this case ironically can help all libraries, or it can hurt.
The Internet Archive is a library I founded 26 years ago. This library has brought hundreds of years of books to the wikipedia generation, and now 4 massive publishers are suing to stop us.
As the world now looks to their screens for answers, what they find is often not good. People are struggling to figure out what is true and it is getting harder.
Digital learners need access to a library of books, a library at least as deep as the libraries we older people had the privilege to grow up with.
The Internet Archive has worked with hundreds of libraries for decades to provide such a library of books. A library where each of those books can be read by one reader at a time. This is what libraries have always done.
We also work with libraries that are under threat. We work with many libraries that have closed their doors completely– libraries with unique collections: Claremont School of Theology, Marygrove College of Detroit, cooking school of Johnson & Wales Denver, Concordia College of Bronxville NY, Drug Policy Alliance’s library of NYC, the Evangelical Seminary of Pennsylvania. I have looked these librarians in the eye and told them that we are there for them.
They entrust their books to us, as a peer library, to carry forward their mission. Most of the books are not available from the publishers in digital form, and never will be. And as we have seen, students, researchers and the print-disabled continue to use these books for quotations and fact checking. And I think we can all agree we need to be able to do fact checking.
Here’s what’s at stake in this case: hundreds of libraries contributed millions of books to the Internet Archive for preservation in addition to those books we have purchased. Thousands of donors provided the funds to digitize them.
The publishers are now demanding that those millions of digitized books, not only be made inaccessible, but be destroyed.
This is horrendous. Let me say it again– the publishers are demanding that millions of digitized books be destroyed.
And if they succeed in destroying our books or even making many of them inaccessible, there will be a chilling effect on the hundreds of other libraries that lend digitized books as we do.
This could be the burning of the Library of Alexandria moment– millions of books from our community’s libraries – gone.
The dream of the Internet was to democratize access to knowledge, but if the big publishers have their way, excessive corporate control will be the nightmare of the Internet.
That is what is at stake. Will libraries even own and preserve collections that are digital? Will libraries serve our patrons with books as we have done for millennia?
A positive ruling that affirms every library’s right to lend the books they own, would build a better Internet and a better society.
We’re standing up for the digital rights of all libraries in court! On Monday at 1pm ET, the Southern District of New York will hear oral argument in Hachette v. Internet Archive, the lawsuit against our library and the longstanding library practice of controlled digital lending, brought by 4 of the world’s largest publishers.
Here’s how you can participate in the proceedings:
At 1pm ET, listen to the oral argument. This hearing is happening via telephone. You can join via 1-888-363-4749, with access code 8140049.
The internet advocacy group Fight for the Future has launched the Battle for Libraries, an online rally in support of the Internet Archive and digital lending. Visit the action hub to engage with other supporters & share messages with your followers across social media to spread awareness about our fight: https://www.battleforlibraries.com
As Twitter has entered the Musk era, many people are leaving the platform or rethinking its role in their lives. Whether they join another platform like Mastodon (as I have) or continue on at Twitter, the instability occasioned by Twitter’s change in ownership has revealed an underlying instability in our digital information ecosystem.
Many have now seen how, when someone deletes their Twitter account, their profile, their tweets, even their direct messages, disappear. According to the MIT Technology Review, around a million people have left so far, and all of this information has left the platform along with them. The mass exodus from Twitter and the accompanying loss of information, while concerning in its own right, shows something fundamental about the construction of our digital information ecosystem: Information that was once readily available to you—that even seemed to belong to you—can disappear in a moment.
Losing access to information of private importance is surely concerning, but the situation is more worrying when we consider the role that digital networks play in our world today. Governments make official pronouncements online. Politicians campaign online. Writers and artists find audiences for their work and a place for their voice. Protest movements find traction and fellow travelers. And, of course, Twitter was a primary publishing platform of a certain U.S. president.
If Twitter were to fail entirely, all of this information could disappear from their site in an instant. This is an important part of our history. Shouldn’t we be trying to preserve it?
I’ve been working on these kinds of questions, and building solutions to some of them, for a long time. That’s part of why, over 25 years ago, I founded the Internet Archive. You may have heard of our “Wayback Machine,” a free service anyone can use to view archived web pages from the mid-1990’s to the present. This archive of the web has been built in collaboration with over a thousand libraries around the world, and it holds hundreds of billions of archived webpages today–including those presidential tweets (and many others). In addition, we’ve been preserving all kinds of important cultural artifacts in digital form: books, television news, government records, early sound and film collections, and much more.
The scale and scope of the Internet Archive can give it the appearance of something unique, but we are simply doing the work that libraries and archives have always done: Preserving and providing access to knowledge and cultural heritage. For thousands of years, libraries and archives have provided this important public service. I started the Internet Archive because I strongly believed that this work needed to continue in digital form and into the digital age.
While we have had many successes, it has not been easy. Like the record labels, many book publishers didn’t know what to make of the internet at first, but now they see new opportunities for financial gain. Platforms, too, tend to put their commercial interests first. Don’t get me wrong: Publishers and platforms continue to play an important role in bringing the work of creators to market, and sometimes assist in the preservation task. But companies close, and change hands, and their commercial interests can cut against preservation and other important public benefits.
Traditionally, libraries and archives filled this gap. But in the digital world, law and technology make their job increasingly difficult. For example, while a library could always simply buy a physical book on the open market in order to preserve it on their shelves, many publishers and platforms try to stop libraries from preserving information digitally. They may even use technical and legal measures to prevent libraries from doing so. While we strongly believe that fair use law enables libraries to perform traditional functions like preservation and lending in the digital environment, many publishers disagree, going so far as to sue libraries to stop them from doing so.
We should not accept this state of affairs. Free societies need access to history, unaltered by changing corporate or political interests. This is the role that libraries have played and need to keep playing. This brings us back to Twitter.
In 2010, Twitter had the tremendous foresight of engaging in a partnership with the Library of Congress to preserve old tweets. At the time, the Library of Congress had been tasked by Congress “to establish a national digital information infrastructure and preservation program.” It appeared that government and private industry were working together in search of a solution to the digital preservation problem, and that Twitter was leading the way.
It was not long before the situation broke down. In 2011, the Library of Congress issued a report noting the need for “legal and regulatory changes that would recognize the broad public interest in long-term access to digital content,” as well as the fact that “most libraries and archives cannot support under current funding” the necessary digital preservation infrastructure.” But no legal and regulatory changes have been forthcoming, and even before the 2011 report, Congress pulled tens of millions of dollars out of the preservation program. In these circumstances, it is perhaps unsurprising that, by 2017, the Library of Congress had ceased preserving most old tweets, and the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) is no longer an active program at the Library of Congress. Furthermore, it is not clear whether Twitter’s new ownership will take further steps of its own to address the situation.
Whatever Musk does, the preservation of our digital cultural heritage should not have to rely on the beneficence of one man. We need to empower libraries by ensuring that they have the same rights with respect to digital materials that they have in the physical world. Whether that means archiving old tweets, lending books digitally, or even something as exciting (to me!) as 21st century interlibrary loan, what’s important is that we have a nationwide strategy for solving the technical and legal hurdles to getting this done.
In our digital world, data is power. Information hoarding businesses reign supreme, using intimidation, aggression, and force to maintain influence and control. SARAH LAMDAN brings us into the unregulated underworld of these “data cartels”, demonstrating how the entities mining, commodifying, and selling our data and informational resources perpetuate social inequalities and threaten the democratic sharing of knowledge.
What do libraries have to do with building a better internet? How would securing certain digital rights for these traditional public interest institutions help make the internet work better for everyone?
Join Public Knowledge President CHRIS LEWIS as he facilitates a conversation on these issues and the emerging Movement for a Better Internet with library and internet policy experts LILA BAILEY (Internet Archive), KATHERINE KLOSEK (Association of Research Libraries) and BRIGITTE VÉZINA (Creative Commons).
They will discuss Internet Archive’s forthcoming report “Securing Digital Rights for Libraries: Towards an Affirmative Policy Agenda for a Better Internet” along with ongoing copyright reform projects from Creative Commons and ARL.
Today’s copyright wars can seem unprecedented. Sparked by the digital revolution that has made copyright—and its violation—a part of everyday life, fights over intellectual property have pitted creators, Hollywood, and governments against consumers, pirates, Silicon Valley, and open-access advocates. But while the digital generation can be forgiven for thinking the dispute between, for example, the publishing industry and libraries is completely new, the copyright wars in fact stretch back three centuries—and their history is essential to understanding today’s battles. THE COPYRIGHT WARS—the first major trans-Atlantic history of copyright from its origins to today—tells this important story.
Democracies need an educated citizenry to thrive. In the 21st century, that means easy access to reliable information online for all.
To meet that need, the Internet Archive is building Democracy’s Library—a free, open, online compendium of government research and publications from around the world.
“Governments have created an abundance of information and put it in the public domain, but it turns out the public can’t easily access it,” said Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle, who is spearheading the effort to collect materials for the digital library.
By having a wealth of public documents curated and searchable through a single interface, citizens will be able to leverage useful research, learn about the workings of their government, hold officials accountable, and be more informed voters.
Too often, the best information on the internet is locked behind paywalls, said Kahle, who has helped create the world’s largest digital library.
“It’s time to turn that scarcity model upside down and build an internet based on abundance,” Kahle said. There is a need for equitable access to objective, historical information to balance the onslaught of misinformation online.
Libraries have long played a vital role in collecting and preserving materials that can educate the public. This mission continues, but the collections need to include digital items to meet the needs of patrons of the internet generation today.
Over the next decade, the Internet Archive is committing to work with libraries, universities, and agencies everywhere to bring the government’s historical information online. It is inviting citizens, libraries, colleges, companies, and the Wikipedians of the world to unlock good information and weave it back into the Internet.
Watch the livestream of Building Democracy’s Library:
The project is part of Kahle’s vision to build a better Internet—one that keeps the public interest above private profit. It is based on an abundance model, in which data can be uncovered, unlocked and reused in new and different ways.
“We know there’s an information flood, but it’s not necessarily all that good,” Kahle said. “It turns out the information on the Internet is not very deep. If you know a subject well, you find that the best information is buried or not even online.”
Democracy’s Library is a move to make governments’ massive investment in research and publications open to all.
Kahle added: “Democracy’s Library is a stepping stone toward citizens who are more empowered and more engaged.“
Carl Malamud is a man with a mission: To make public information freely available to the public.
For more than three decades, Malamud has not just talked in theory about why government materials should be online—he has taken action to digitize and upload massive amounts of data himself. He is the reason many laws and judicial opinions, corporate filings and patents, Congressional hearings and government films are at the fingertips of the American people.
“Our democracy, particularly today, depends on an informed citizenry, with so much misinformation and disinformation,” said Malamud, 63, founder of the nonprofit organization Public.Resource.Org. “We have to learn how our government works, what our fundamental values are, and we have to communicate that with our fellow citizens.”
Malamud is a disrupter for the public good.
His effort to unleash government data behind paywalls has put him at odds with many trying to profit from dispensing public records. Yet in case after case, Malamud is winning and adding to the body of open knowledge freely available online.
In recognition of his relentless work on behalf of the public interest, Malamud has been honored with the 2022 Internet Archive Hero Award.
“Carl has spent his career getting public access to the public domain, bringing government information to everyone with no restrictions,” said Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle. “He’s been unwavering in his vision, seeing how the works of governments can be leveraged by everyone using this digital technology.”
Although he’s not in the civil service, Kahle said Malamud acts as a civil servant. He sides with advancing the public interest over corporate profits, and has been a pioneer in how to operate a nonprofit in the internet space. Malamud’s tenacity and drive is at the essence of what it means to be a hero, said Kahle: “Somebody who puts themselves at risk or in harm’s way to get their vision built.”
After studying the convergence of computers and communication in college, Malamud went to Washington, D.C., to work in public policy. Malamud developed an expertise in databases, networking, and technology to broadcast audio and video over the internet. In 1993, he started the nonprofit Internet Multicasting Service and ran the first radio station on the internet out of an office in the National Press Building. (An archive of his broadcasts from 1993-95 are available here.)
One of Malamud’s early projects was putting corporate information from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission — the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system (EDGAR) online. This allowed investors, journalists and citizens to download information about SEC filings for free, rather than pay a fee to a private company.
The work was funded with a grant from the National Science Foundation, and with money left over from the project, Malamud put the databases from the U.S. Patent Office online. In each instance, Malamud had to first purchase the database from.
“I got a grant from the American people, to buy the data from the American people, so I could give it back to the American people,” said Malamud, who often uses such plain language in his arguments for unlocking information into the public realm.
Demonstrating by doing
Getting the SEC data online was a seminal event, said Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Media, noting he and others were inspired by Malamud’s fearless “hacktivism” approach. “It was the beginning of the open government data movement,” he said. “I’ve always called Carl an unsung hero ever since that, because he’s the guy who started it all in motion.”
Faced with pushback from entities that say it’s too hard or it will take too long to put information online, Malamud moves forward and demonstrates it can be done affordably—and the public will use it. It was Malamud who set up the first internet demonstration in the White House during Bill Clinton’s presidency. He advised the administration, and others that followed, on technology policy and identified opportunities to make government records available online—and demonstrated it’s possible.
“Carl has an unwavering commitment to the core principle that citizens should have access to the law and to government documents….and he’s establishing an important legal precedent,” said Tom Kalil, former White House aide to President Clinton and President Obama. “He’s not just a public intellectual writing op-eds, but actually getting things done.’
A passion for changing systems
Malamud has also been a prolific writer. He is the author of nine books, including “Exploring the Internet,” all composed in long hand on paper.
His writing caught the eye of John Podesta in the early 1990s, who was working for President Clinton and figuring out how to move from paper to digital archiving.
“Carl and I had a passion for [the idea] that public records should be public and electronic records should be preserved,” said Podesta. “Carl was both a pioneer and advocate for the power of the net as a democratic tool.”
Podesta said Malamud was a force on Capitol Hill trying to shape legislation, and when he started the Center for American Progress, in 2003, Podesta hired Malamud to be chief technology officer of the progressive think tank. “Carl is friendly and funny, but what really makes him effective is that he’s dogged and passionate. He wears that on his sleeve,” Podesta said. “He just gets right to the point, and I really admire that in him.”
From pushing for access to material from the Smithsonian Institution to the House of Representatives , Podesta said his single-handed influence is clear. “He’s really changed systems,” Podesta said. “He just won’t accept the status quo.”
Podesta said Malamud has had the most impact going right to the source of the data, trying to convince the entities to put information in the public domain.
“It’s extremely valuable in a democracy to make sure that people have not just theoretical access, but real access,” to information, Podesta said. “Oftentimes, the burdens are either bureaucracy or ridiculous charges to get public documents. No one challenges that, but Carl does.”
A battle for the ages
In 2007, Malamud started Public.Resource.Org, based in Sonoma County, California. He has 18 people on contract and numerous collaborators, and works with a dozen pro bono law firms to advance the mission of the nonprofit. The organization operates with a grant from Arcadia (a charitable trust of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin) and donations from individuals. He appeals to players across the political spectrum with a variety of tactics: writing letters, making speeches, talking to officials in person, and, when necessary, filing lawsuits to challenge claims of copyright.
Recently, Malamud had a big win with a U.S. Supreme Court case (Georgia v. Public.Resource.Org) after he posted the Official Code of Georgia and was sued for copyright violations—a decision that has had a ripple effect across the country. For nearly a decade, he’s been embroiled in a legal fight to put building, electrical and other public safety codes with the force of law online.
“I look for things that should be available and are not,” Malamud said, then simply lays out why information should be free with clear, defensible reasons. “You have to have a story that makes sense.”
Malamud has worked at this cause like no one else, determined to make sure the public realizes what’s at stake when powerful people are concealing the world of knowledge, said David Halperin, a Washington, D.C., attorney. Halperin was with the Clinton administration and has been counsel to Public.Resource.Org since 2012. “He puts it on them to have to explain why their special interests are more important than global progress and democracy,” he said.
Halperin said Malamud is effective because he is relentless and shares his infectious love of democracy. “And, he is willing to be the person who, when everyone else says, ‘Shut up and get along,’ says: ‘No, this still isn’t right. I’m not going to be cuddly here. It’s time for me to be the moral voice, to be the energy in the room that says, Okay, everyone else may now feel it’s time to be collegial. I feel like it’s time to be just.’”
Corynne McSherry, legal director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has represented Malamud in several cases and said he knows how to adjust his strategy to persuade others and be creative in his messaging.
“He tries to help people understand what it is he’s up to, because it’s not always clear to everybody,” McSherry said. “When you can’t see the world that the person is building towards, that person has to imagine it for you—and that’s the thing he does.”
Since Malamud was involved in the early days of the internet, he embraced the potential promise of the technology to open up knowledge, McSherry said.
“We live in a nation of rules, and we should have the ability to actually know what they are,” McSherry said, although for a long time those rules were only available to experts with special access. “That changed. Pulling our governmental structures and all our laws into the 21st century is not a small task, but that’s what Malamud took on.”
Drawing inspiration from history
To make his case in the court of public opinion, Malamud has used humor and tapped into his artistic side. He produced a video about making building and electrical codes open, “Show Me The Manual,” and a short movie about his philosophy, “Open Access Ninja.” He speaks at conferences and universities, tailoring his message to attorneys, government workers, students, or fellow open advocates to advance his cause. The Internet Archive hosts a collection of his videos, texts and other materials online, as well as FedFlix, which includes government films Malamud uploaded and curated.
Malamud has expanded his efforts internationally, working with organizations in India to scan government and cultural information. His Public Library of India collections on the Internet Archive are some of the most popular India resources on the net.He’s become an Indian food expert, of sorts, too, said McSherry, and often expresses his gratitude to her and other attorneys working on his behalf by gifting them with Indian spices.
Since he began working in this space, Malamud said he’s encouraged to see more forward thinking about open data. Still, barriers exist. Most often, he said, he’s up against money and control. While Malamud said he’s making inroads in the power struggle, he said it’s “sort of Whack-A-Mole” with every win followed by another challenge popping up.
When he needs a little inspiration himself, Malamud said he reads from his library of writings from early American feminists and civil rights leaders. Sometimes he quotes Martin Luther King Jr. (“Change only comes with continuous struggle”) or Gandhi (“A public worker has to learn to endure with fortitude.’)
A recurring lesson he’s gleaned from others in history who had fought against the establishment: “You can, in fact, change the way the world works—but you have to be patient. It takes time.”
Carl Malamud, founder of Public.Resource.Org and a champion for making government information accessible to all, will receive the 2022 Internet Archive Hero Award. He will be presented the award at next week’s evening celebration, “Building Democracy’s Library.”
This year, the Internet Archive is honoring Carl as a tireless advocate for free access to government information. Some highlights of his work include:
In the early days of the internet, Carl was a pioneer in pushing for public materials to be available online. Over three decades, he has digitized and uploaded thousands of documents from Congressional hearings, government films, and worked with the executive branch to shape public policy on information sharing.
He is to thank for EDGAR (Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system) Online, the free Securities and Exchange Commission database of corporate information and putting the database of U.S. patents on the internet.
Carl is relentless in his ongoing quest to have detailed codes for buildings, product safety, and infrastructure available to the public on the internet.
He founded Public.Resource.Org, a nonprofit based in California in 2007. Several contractors and pro-bono attorneys work with him to unleash public information from behind paywalls—sometimes landing him in court to defend his actions, all done in the name of the public good.
Carl is known as a dedicated, passionate, principled individual whose creative strategies—and, at times, dose of humor and flair—have fueled his success in opening up access to public knowledge.
Carl has been a supporter of the Internet Archive since its inception. Much of his work appears in the Internet Archive collection including his book, “Exploring the Internet,” a movie, Open Access Ninja, about his philosophy with Public Resource.org and a video, “Show Me the Manual,” about making building and electrical codes available.