Category Archives: News

Celebrating 20 Years of the Live Music Archive

This week, the Live Music Archive collection at the Internet Archive reaches a milestone – 20 years since the collection was started. The roots of the Live Music Archive collection are visible right in the URL – etree. Did you ever wonder what the “etree” in the URL references? In 1998, the etree music community was created to promote the online trading of lossless audio recordings of live music performances. With the advent of more widely available broadband (by 1990’s standards, mind you) internet connections and the creation of lossless file compression formats (Shorten at first, followed by FLAC), the community established protocols to ensure the preservation and archiving of these original audio recordings. Preservation and archiving. The very ethos of the Internet Archive.

Early Live Music Archive logo

In July 2002, Jon Aizen, a software engineer at the Internet Archive and live music enthusiast, proposed to Brewster Kahle the idea of archiving live music recordings. Brewster was enthusiastic and so on July 23, 2002, Jon reached out to the etree community via their email list to make an offer. The Internet Archive was offering to provide “unlimited storage, unlimited bandwidth, forever, for free” to ensure the preservation and easy distribution of these live music recordings. The reply came back:  “We don’t believe you. But if you could, that would be our dream.” And we were off to the races to create the first library archive of lossless, legal, live audio recordings. The first order of business was to get explicit permission from the artists to not only preserve but also make available easy access to their recordings. Aizen and others starting emailing bands and documenting their responses. It would be a great story to have the first item as part of the collection to be some rare Grateful Dead recording from 1968, but it is actually an unassuming Rusted Root audience recording from August 24, 2001 uploaded to the new Live Music Archive collection by Aizen on August 12, 2002. You can listen to it here. Of course, there has to be a Grateful Dead connection as the show features a guest appearance by Mark Karan, guitarist (at the time) for Ratdog, one of Bob Weir’s side projects. Perhaps the fact that it is unassuming is more in line with the goal of preservation and archiving. Preservation of all, not just the shiny fancy gem. Permission from the Grateful Dead came a little while later, through Brewster’s connection to John Perry Barlow, who worked together on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

As the Live Music Archive was established, the etree community jumped in to help get things rolling – dedicating hundreds of hours to cataloging, uploading, and verifying recordings of shows. In those days it would take 6-12 hours to upload a show via FTP. Jon Aizen describes grabbing shows off etree’s FTP server network as well as from hard drives and other sources and uploading them to the Live Music Archive. Aizen also worked in the early days to create the curation process to enable volunteers to ensure that uploads were permitted by the artists. The Internet Archive team also worked on the “deriver” software which would convert the lossless recordings to MP3 and other more accessible formats (which came after heated debate amongst the etree community, for many of whom the notion of lossy distribution of recordings was anathema). Today’s uploading experience is a web interface that takes most folks 10-20 minutes to upload a show and have it almost immediately available to the world. There were many people involved in the early days and I’m sure we will miss some, but we’d like to thank the following notable contributors:

Alexis Rossi
Brad Leblanc
Bram Cohen
Caleb Epstein
Diana Hamilton
Ghost
Greg Pope
John Dailey
Jon Aizen
Lauren Gelman
Marc Pujol
Mark Goldey
Matt Vernon
Parker Thompson
Peter Hedeman
Ryan Brase
Tom Anderson
Tom Horton
Tracey Jaquith
Tyler Huff

Brad Leblanc recalls doing all the tasks manually – validating checksums, moving files to public download areas, running derivation routines to create mp3/ogg files for streaming. Brad, Jon, and all the others were curating this new collection, bit by bit, as well as building software to automate the process. The Live Music Archive volunteers today still refer to themselves as curators. An amazing task with incredible results.

A grand offer followed by a positive, yet skeptical, response. And then a lot of hard work by both Internet Archive staff and engineers as well as volunteers from the live music taping and trading community. For 20 years, we have kept curating, uploading to the Live Music Archive about 1,000 recordings per month with the total now at 240,000 recordings in total – by far the largest collection of live music recordings in the world. We should reach 250,000 by next summer. More than 8,000 artists have given permission to have recordings of their shows archived on the Live Music Archive. Those recordings have been listened to more than 600,000,000 (yes, 600 Million) times. And many of those are not even the Grateful Dead, giving visibility to artists that might otherwise have less exposure. The Grateful Dead remains the cornerstone artist of the Live Music Archive, but there are many other options on the Live Music Archive – jambands, folk singers, bluegrass, rock, pop, jazz, classical, experimental, mainstream artists, and every combination you can think of.

Beyond listening to the music, what impact has the Live Music Archive had on the artists? The recordings allow their fans to hear the shows they were at or couldn’t make it to or the one across the country that happened yesterday. Building and fortifying a fanbase through the community of live music recordings. Not just for the fans, but the appreciation from the artists as well. One of our curators was having a conversation backstage before a show with a musician friend. It was an “in the round” type show featuring four songwriters alternating to perform their songs with the others playing or singing along. One of the other artists was on the couch trying to take a nap before the show. As soon as the conversation turned to the Live Music Archive, he popped off the couch to say, “I love the Live Music Archive! That place is great. I go there to check out music all the time.” From a nap to excitement in a second. The Live Music Archive is a resource both personally and professionally for musicians. A new musician joins the band? Send them to the Live Music Archive to check out some shows to learn how the songs are played live, the seques occur. A recent text one of our curators received was an artist looking for a recommendation, “What is a good recent recording I can send to some musicians? I love the Tahoe and Eugene recordings from earlier this year but need something more recent.” It was certainly enough to put a smile on a curator’s face.

From trading tapes (reel to reel, cassettes, DATs) by mail months/years after the show occurred to CD’s to FTP server networks to hearing the show hours after it ended on your mobile device – a transformation of a community. No longer hundreds and thousands hearing the show, but hundreds of thousands.

The Live Music Archive curators are not just archivists, but tapers and music fans themselves. Here are some suggestions for curators past and present.

From Jon Aizen:

“It’s hard to pick one, but I think Sim and Uniit at the State Theater in Ithaca in 2002 is an amazing example of the power of the Archive. If it weren’t for the Archive, this recording would be sitting on a tape somewhere, probably lost forever. This small act, never to be repeated (Sim and Uniit are friends, but not a regular act) is a moment in time perfectly captured.”

Sim Redmond and Uniit Carruyo Live at State Theater on 2002-09-14

From vanark:

“Some of my favorite recordings are from the most intimate settings – especially house concerts and in store performances. Close to the performer in a more informal environment, without a big PA or sound system. Musician, instrument (usually acoustic), microphones, and a couple dozen fans. In this recording, the in store occurred in the afternoon prior to the evening performance at a local club. JJ Grey walks to the small area in the corner of the store, sees the microphones set up in front of him and asks, ‘Whose are these?’ I raise my hand and a big smile rises across his face and I get a ‘That’s great!’ A short 5-song set promoting the newest CD. There were still hours before the evening show, so I head home and upload the show to the Archive before heading to the club. I think I had more fun at the free in store than the main event.”

JJ Grey Live at Newbury Comics – Faneuil Hall Marketplace on 2008-10-25

If you want to listen to some of the most popular recordings of all time on the Live Music Archive, here are some selections.

The most listened to item of all time. OAR has quite a following, and this one might have been embedded on their Myspace page to get 2.7 million listens:

Of A Revolution Live at Madison Square Garden on 2006-01-14

The most listened to Grateful Dead recording (no, not Cornell 1977, although that is second):

Grateful Dead Live at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium on 1973-06-10

An interesting show in the top 20 of all time, from a pizza/brewery in Asheville, NC, recorded by curator Gordon:

Patterson Hood Live at Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company on 2006-01-07

Whichever show you choose to listen to, whether it has been listened to 500,000 times or a backyard show from last weekend listened to 50 times, they have value to someone and it is not measured by the number of listens. The tapers are still out there capturing the moments from artists, new and established, doing covers or originals. Capturing, archiving, preserving.

From all the listeners, artists, and tapers, thank you to the Internet Archive and etree for taking that leap of faith in 2002 and pushing it forward. Who knows where we can take it from here? Let’s keep it going! Let’s start planning that party for the 25th anniversary – who’s in?

Book Signing with Congressman Adam Schiff at the Internet Archive

Please join us for a conversation and book signing sponsored by Booksmith, Berkeley Arts & Letters and the Internet Archive.

Congressman Schiff is celebrating the paperback launch of his #1 New York Times bestselling “Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could”.

Tuesday 8/16/22 7:30 pm

300 Funston Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94118

Adam Schiff is the United States Representative for California’s 28th Congressional District. In his role as Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Schiff led the first impeachment of Donald J. Trump. Before he served in Congress, he worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles and as a California State Senator.

RSVP here

New additions to the Internet Archive for July 2022

Many items are added to the Internet Archive’s collections every month, by us and by our patrons. Here’s a round up of some of the new media you might want to check out. Logging in might be required to borrow certain items. 

Notable new collections from our patrons: 

Books – 78,091 New items in July

This month we’ve added books on varied subjects in more than 20 languages. Click through to explore, but here are a few interesting items to start with:

Audio Archive – 91,636 New Items in July

The audio archive contains recordings ranging from alternative news programming, to Grateful Dead concerts, to Old Time Radio shows, to book and poetry readings, to original music uploaded by our users. Explore.

LibriVox Audiobooks – 119 New Items in July

Founded in 2005, Librivox is a community of volunteers from all over the world who record audiobooks of public domain texts in many different languages. Explore.

78 RPMs and Cylinder Recordings – 8,888 New Items in July

Listen to this collection of 78rpm records, cylinder recordings, and other recordings from the early 20th century. Explore.

Live Music Archive – 965 New Items in July

The Live Music Archive is a community committed to providing the highest quality live concerts in a lossless, downloadable format, along with the convenience of on-demand streaming (all with artist permission). Explore.

Movies – 135 New Items in July

Watch feature films, classic shorts, documentaries, propaganda, movie trailers, and more! Explore.

Canada is Leading the Way on User-Centered Copyright Policy

In an important new copyright decision, the Supreme Court of Canada reaffirmed its commitment to the principles of users rights and technological neutrality–principles which have made Canada a world leader in balanced copyright and support for controlled digital lending (CDL) by libraries.  

For many years now, the Supreme Court of Canada has emphasized the importance of these two principles in striking the proper copyright balance. With respect to user’s rights, the Supreme Court has held that exceptions and limitations to copyright are not mere loopholes–they are affirmative user’s rights. This means that copyright is not about maximizing the economic interests of publishers or anyone else, but instead about advancing the public good by seeking “the proper balance between the rights of a copyright owner and users’ interests.” With respect to technological neutrality, the Supreme Court has held that the Copyright Act must be interpreted in view of the principle of technological neutrality, according to which “[w]hat matters is what the user receives, not how the user receives it.” This means that, in general, the courts should “interpret the Copyright Act in a way that avoids imposing an additional layer of protections and fees based solely on the method of delivery of the work to the end user.” These principles have been particularly important for Canadian libraries and their patrons, supporting CDL and other important library practices there.

In many ways, these principles seem like good old fashioned common sense. But publishers and others have long claimed that these user rights and technological neutrality “pose[] a direct threat” to their economic interests. In the new case, SOCAN v. ESA, these arguments were once again brought before the Supreme Court of Canada–and once again rejected. 

As Professor Michael Geist has noted, the case:

provides a further entrenchment of Canadian copyright jurisprudence that holds users’ rights and the copyright balance as foundational elements of the law. . . . the court’s support for these principles is not obiter, rhetoric, or likely to change. Indeed, copyright lobby groups have spent much of the past two decades in denial, convinced that somehow the growing body of Supreme Court copyright cases will be reversed the next time the court confronts the issue. That has now led to multiple defeats at Canada’s highest court by copyright collectives such as Access Copyright and SOCAN. In each case, the core copyright principles have remained unchanged. Indeed, if anything, they have become more solidified as precedent builds upon precedent. Given these outcomes and last week’s SOCAN v. ESA decision, it is long past time for these groups to engage in copyright policy based on the realities of balance, users’ rights, and technological neutrality.

These principles–and a balanced approach overall–allow libraries in Canada to continue to fulfill their mission in the digital age, and allow ordinary citizens access to quality information, all while supporting a thriving creative industry at home and abroad.

DWeb Camp 2022: A Grounded Convening of Those Building a Decentralized, Values-Driven Web

Much has changed since 2016, when the Internet Archive held the first Decentralized Web Summit. Scrappy teams with lean funding have grown into formidable organizations with budgets in the millions. Niche technologies and far-fetched debates from a few years ago have dominated headlines and are shaping entire economies.

Each of the DWeb events reflected a moment in a quickly shifting landscape of protocols, institutions, and ideologies. In the three years since DWeb Camp in 2019, some major trends have transformed people’s thinking. The explosion of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) into the mainstream. The renaissance of projects centered on shared ownership and governance of assets. The reckoning with the power and potential of decentralized technologies: to either further entrench existing social inequities and exacerbate ecological harm, or radically reconstruct the ways in which individuals and communities can meaningfully address these and other crises of our time. 

As organizers of this community, the defining change was the development of the DWeb Principles. The Principles help us to define what we stand for, instead of merely what we stand against. They emerged out of discussions and alignment between many members of the DWeb community, and are just one part of a growing awareness of the ethics and beneficiaries of decentralized digital ecosystems. 

DWeb Camp 2022 will be held from August 24-28 at Camp Navarro, California. As the programming takes shape, the themes, spaces, and participants of this year’s event clearly reflect where we are in this still nascent movement. At DWeb Camp, we’ll be hacking and live testing cutting edge decentralized protocols, platforms, and hardware. We’ll tackle thorny topics about who these tools serve and how to govern and steward them sustainably. We’ll confront questions about power, marginalization, community, identity, ecology, and human rights. 

With all the DWeb events, we aim to create spaces for people to share their ideas, projects, and research among warm, supportive peers who believe in a plurality of approaches and solutions to build a decentralized values-driven web. By meeting in-person, outdoors among towering redwood trees, DWeb Camp is about manifesting that ethos as we invite all those participating to bring their full selves. We’re designing this event to be a place for us to be curious and humble. Not to come with all the answers but to be open to having your mind and heart changed.

Below are some of the Spaces, or thematic sessions, that will be held throughout the five-day event. In addition to the Spaces described below, we will build a local Mesh Network across the campground for participants to share locally-hosted materials, test hardware, and experience a community network first-hand.

Spaces

  • Hackers Hall  – Tech projects, Science Fair, and User testing
  • Healing Waters in Cambium Pavillion – Conversations, music, tea, and storytelling
  • People-2-People Tent – Exploration of emergent wisdom through play
  • Open Source Library – Storytelling, books and games
  • Redwood Parliament Pavillion – Imagine and co-inspire a governance layer for the DWeb
  • Filecoin Foundation Forest Hang Out – Connect with new friends while lying in hammocks
  • Redwood Cathedral – Wellness, meditation, and conversation 
  • Universal Access Amphitheater – Talks and breakout discussions
  • Be Water Waystation – Art and hands-on programs for children
  • Thunder Salon – Lightning talks

We’re lucky to have an incredible group of people stewarding the programming in each Space, ensuring that the sessions invite collective practice in discussion, imagination, and play. Continue reading below for more detailed descriptions of some of the Spaces, written by the stewards. An online schedule of all the sessions in each Space will become available the week of the event.

Hackers Hall

The Hacker’s Hall is the place for people of technical and non-technical backgrounds to meet each other at all hours of the day and night. We will have Wi-Fi, couches, whiteboards, and tables. It will be the Mesh Network Hub of the Camp. Come to the Science Fair on Thursday, where everyone can try interactive demos of existing decentralization projects and meet the people who are building them. Then on Friday, come to “Dogfooding Decentralization,” a User Testing Lab for DWeb project. Each team will have office hours where you can come deep dive with them.

Come build on and improve projects, test software, be a user tester, meet developers and designers, ask questions, and learn new things about the decentralization all around us! 

The Redwood Cathedral at Camp Navarro, the venue of DWeb Camp 2022

Healing Waters in Cambium Pavilion

Oceans and creeks, rivers and lakes, from the clouds in the sky to the pipes in our homes, water connects us all. This is the focus of Healing Waters at DWeb camp, an Indigenous-led, multi-modal celebration of this precious substance that supports all life on Earth. By the meeting place of the Navarro River and the Pacific Ocean, Healing Waters invites DWeb campers to explore their relationship to water and what it means to be fluid, literally and metaphorically. Our programming navigates the currents leading from Indigenous technologies and storytelling to hyper-modern science and cartography, with ports of call in art, music, policy, poetry, history, and mythology.

Programming Highlights:

  • A conversation led by Haudenosaunee artists Asha Veeraswamy and Amelia Winger-Bearskin about the parallels between open-source technology, decentralization, and the consensus-building practices that led to the formation of the Iroquois Confederacy, and deeply influenced the U.S. Constitution 
  • Data visualization workshop using real water data from the US Geological Survey led by data manager/designer Martha Bearskin 
  • Real-time data-driven VJ session featuring artist/technologist Devin Ronneberg
  • Morning communal singing rituals led by artist and opera singer Amelia Winger-Bearskin
  • Musical performances and night raves in the majestic redwood forest
  • Sound baths (meditative experiences in which the audience is “bathed” in immersive spatialized audio)
  • Martial arts instruction, guiding students to access the deep aquifer of intuition that flows just below the conscious mind

People-2-People Tent

Let’s myceliate!

Let’s root and spread our hyphae through the ground: tree-to-tree, person-to-person, peer-to-peer, and node-to-node.

Let’s relieve networks of the extractive transactional usage and explore in earnest what it’s like to design, form, and experience networks the way fungi do. The way the complex systems of our bodies do. The way humans do when we weave our relational webs. Our webs have connections, overlapping points, tensions, resistances, and anchors.

Let’s weave, let’s twine, let’s interwingle. Let’s use our technologies of language, of frames, of digital media to better see and play with these patterns of relating in real time, in real life, with each other.

Those working on peer-to-peer (P2P) projects are invited to do a Kindergarten Lightning Talk to share  their technologies using crayons and paper and pipe cleaners. We’ll have interactive sessions from different P2P projects like Scuttlebutt, Holochain, and Fluence. There will be a full on battle session (playful, of course) between blockchain folks and fully distributed folks over what the “D” in DWeb stands for. Think arts and crafts and workshops meet P2P technology!

Hammocks at Camp Navarro!

Filecoin Foundation Forest Hang Out

Our Venue Sponsor, Filecoin Foundation, invites you to hang out in the trees and meet Foundation leaders. This is the place to come to chill, meet new friends, and enjoy late night pizza cooked to order in a wood-fired oven on Wednesday and a Silent Disco on Friday. 

Open Source Library

Looking for a place of quiet contemplation? Come to the Open Source Library to peruse some favorite books of your fellow campers. We’ll ask each person to bring a few meaningful books to give away. Authors’ talks and storytelling, game nights and children’s films will all take place in the Library.

Redwood Parliament Pavilion

Imagine an Internet where democracy is at least as available as autocracy.

The decentralized Internet is a complex network of technical and social interdependencies; a mix of protocols and the communities that thrive in and across the network. However, the Internet as it currently exists has been flattened and consolidated to render these socio-technical complexities into top-down, autocratic defaults for social organization. And yet, these interdependencies continue to grow, challenging and proving the current form of the Internet socially unsustainable; calling us instead to develop more collective means and intuitions for how we govern our commons.

Redwood Parliament is a collection of events at DWeb Camp that will address these interdependencies in all of their complexity and practice alternatives to autocracy.

The track will bring together practitioners, researchers, artists, builders, and dreamers to actively imagine and co-inspire a governance layer for the decentralized Internet. Over four days, campers will have the opportunity to participate in a collection of distributed activities, workshops, and discussions designed to give us the conceptual and experiential tools and frameworks that we can take with us to help us do this work.

Together, we will:

  • Explore ways of flexibly composing and experimenting with different decision making structures through workshops and hands on engagement with new digital-native tools;
  • Immerse ourselves in a black-box modular governance Live Action Role Play (LARP);
  • Collectively develop a map of governance practices and protocols existing across the decentralized Internet;
  • Read, annotate, and be guided through various constitutions forming around the decentralized Internet;
  • Design ecological patterns, protocols, and mechanisms, guided by the ethos of the DWeb, to shape and inform the inter-relationship between our physical and economic environments; and
  • Engage in speculative writing and world building exercises focused on imagining approaches to governance past, present, and future;

These activities and happenings will complement and inform a series of meta-level discussions around research that the organizers of the Redwood Parliament have been conducting on this topic of a governance layer for the decentralized Internet.

— 

Redwood Parliament is a joint collaboration between Metagov, the Internet Archive, and RadicalxChange, with support from the Unfinished Network and the National Science Foundation.

August Book Talk: Dataraising and Digital Civil Society

Featuring the book How We Give Now by Lucy Bernholz. Published by MIT Press.

What is dataraising and why should nonprofits care? For millennia humans have given time and money to each other and to causes they care about. A few hundred years ago we invented nonprofit organizations and they’ve become a key mechanism in the donation of private resources for public benefit. Now, we can also donate digital data. Organizations such as iNaturalist use donated digital photographs to build communities of nature lovers and inform climate scientists. Other organizations are using donated data to build cultural archives, advocate for fair labor laws, protect consumers, and for medical research.

Watch session recording:

Join Lucy Bernholz, author of How We Give Now, Scott Loarie of iNaturalist, and Dr. Jasmine McNealy from the University of Florida for a discussion of the promises and perils of donating digital data and the implications for individuals, communities, and civil society.

Purchase your copy of How We Give Now from MIT Press.

August Book Talk: Dataraising and Digital Civil Society
Featuring Lucy Bernholz, author of How We Give Now, Scott Loarie of iNaturalist, and Dr. Jasmine McNealy from the University of Florida
August 10, 2022 @ 11am PT
Watch the session recording.

Internet Archive Seeks Summary Judgment in Federal Lawsuit Filed By Publishing Companies

The Internet Archive has asked a federal judge to rule in our favor and end a radical lawsuit, filed by four major publishing companies, that aims to criminalize library lending.

The motion for summary judgment, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Durie Tangri LLP, explains that our Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) program is a lawful fair use that preserves traditional library lending in the digital world. 

The brief explains how the Internet Archive is advancing the purposes of copyright law by furthering public access to knowledge and facilitating the creation of new creative and scholarly works. The Internet Archive’s digital lending hasn’t cost the publishers one penny in revenues; in fact, concrete evidence shows that the Archive’s digital lending does not and will not harm the market for books.

Earlier today, we hosted a press conference with stakeholders in the lawsuit and the librarians and creators who will be affected by its outcome, including:

“Should we stop libraries from owning and lending books? No,” said Brewster Kahle, the Internet Archive’s founder and digital librarian. “We need libraries to be independent and strong, now more than ever, in a time of misinformation and challenges to democracy. That’s why we are defending the rights of libraries to serve our patrons where they are, online.”

Through CDL, the Internet Archive and other libraries make and lend out digital scans of print books in our collections, subject to strict technical controls. Each book loaned via CDL has already been bought and paid for, so authors and publishers have already been fully compensated for those books. Nonetheless, publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Wiley, and Penguin Random House sued the Archive in 2020, claiming incorrectly that CDL violates their copyrights.

“The publishers are not seeking protection from harm to their existing rights. They are seeking a new right foreign to American copyright law: the right to control how libraries may lend the books they own,” said EFF Legal Director Corynne McSherry. “They should not succeed. The Internet Archive and the hundreds of libraries and archives that support it are not pirates or thieves. They are librarians, striving to serve their patrons online just as they have done for centuries in the brick-and-mortar world. Copyright law does not stand in the way of a library’s right to lend its books to its patrons, one at a time.”

Authors and librarians speak out in support of the Internet Archive

“In the all-consuming tide of entropy, the Internet Archive brings some measure of order and permanence to knowledge,” said author Tom Scocca. “Out past the normal circulating lifespan of a piece of writing—or past the lifespan of entire publications—the Archive preserves and maintains it.”

“The library’s practice of controlled digital lending was a lifeline at the start of the pandemic and has become an essential service and a public good since,” said Benjamin Saracco, a research and digital services faculty librarian at an academic medical and hospital library in New Jersey. “If the publishers are successful in their pursuit to shut down the Internet Archive’s lending library and stop all libraries from practicing controlled digital lending, libraries of all varieties and the communities they serve will suffer.”

Internet Archive Founder: “We are defending the rights of libraries to serve our patrons where they are, online”

On July 8, 2022, Brewster Kahle, founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive, spoke at a press conference about the copyright lawsuit brought against the Internet Archive by four commercial publishers. These are his remarks:

The Internet Archive is a non-profit library. And we do what libraries have always done.

What libraries do is we buy, preserve and lend books to one reader at a time. Why do we do it?  Libraries are a pillar of our democracy. We are a great equalizer, providing access to information for all. We also have an age-old role as custodians of culture, preserving knowledge for future generations. 

This is what the Internet Archive is doing along-side hundreds of other libraries.  We have been lending scanned digital copies of print books for more than 10 years, and it has helped millions of digital learners.  

With this lawsuit, the publishers are saying that in digital form, we cannot buy books, we cannot preserve books, and we cannot lend books.

This lawsuit is not just an attack on the Internet Archive—it is an attack on all libraries. The publishers want to criminalize libraries’ owning, lending and preserving books in digital form. 

Should we stop libraries from owning and lending books? No. We need libraries to be independent and strong, now more than ever, in a time of misinformation and challenges to democracy.

That’s why we are defending the rights of libraries to serve our patrons where they are, online.

EFF Legal Director: “Copyright law does not stand in the way of a library’s right to lend its books”

On July 8, 2022, Corynne McSherry, legal director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, spoke at a press conference about the copyright lawsuit brought against the Internet Archive by four commercial publishers. These are her remarks:

The Internet Archive, headquartered in San Francisco, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit library dedicated to preserving and sharing knowledge. Through Controlled Digital Lending (“CDL”), the Internet Archive and other nonprofit libraries make and lend out digital scans of print books in their collections, subject to strict technical controls.  Each book loaned via CDL has already been bought and paid for, so authors and publishers have already been fully compensated for those books.

Publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Wiley, and Penguin Random House sued the Archive in 2020, claiming that CDL violates their copyrights, costs them millions of dollars, and threatens their businesses. They are wrong: Libraries have paid publishers billions of dollars for the books in their print collections, and are investing enormous resources in digitization in order to preserve those texts. CDL merely helps libraries take the next step by ensuring the public can make full use of books that libraries already have bought and paid for. CDL is fundamentally the same as traditional library lending and poses no harm to authors or the publishing industry. 

Yesterday, we filed a brief asking a federal judge to put a stop to these publishers’ efforts to limit access to library books. Our motion for summary judgment, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, explains that the Archive’s CDL program is not copyright infringement but a lawful fair use that preserves traditional library lending in the digital world.  Among other things, we explain how the Archive is advancing the purposes of copyright law by furthering public access to knowledge and facilitating the creation of new creative and scholarly works.  And Internet Archive’s digital lending hasn’t cost the publishers one penny in revenues. In fact, the concrete evidence shows that the Archive’s digital lending does not and will not harm the market for books.

The publishers are not seeking protection from harm to their existing rights,. They are seeking a new right foreign to American copyright law: the right to control how libraries may lend the books they own.   

They should not succeed. The Internet Archive and the hundreds of libraries and archives that support it are not pirates or thieves. They are librarians, striving to serve their patrons online just as they have done for centuries in the brick-and-mortar world.  Copyright law does not stand in the way of a library’s right to lend its books to its patrons, one at a time. 

Briefing on these issues will continue over the next few months, and we hope to have a decision from the court sometime next year.

Author and Editor: “Internet Archive brings some measure of order and permanence to knowledge”

On July 8, 2022, author and editor Tom Scocca spoke at a press conference about the copyright lawsuit brought against the Internet Archive by four commercial publishers. Tom is an editor at The Brick House, the proprietor of Indignity, and the former politics editor at Slate. He is the author of Beijing Welcomes You: Unveiling the Capital City of the Future. These are his remarks:

To be a writer in the 21st century is to be caught between two conflicting concerns: the fear that one’s work will be stolen, and the fear that one’s work will be lost. These are the individual and personal expressions of the larger facts of our living amid an unprecedented availability of information, and of the unprecedented unavailability of that same information. Our knowledge and our work are caught up in rapid, unpredictable cycles of creation, dissemination, and destruction; just as I was sitting down to write these thoughts, I discovered a year’s worth of my own writing had been suddenly blocked from being read on the internet by an expired certificate.

But I could still find it on the Internet Archive. In the all-consuming tide of entropy, the Internet Archive brings some measure of order and permanence to knowledge. Out past the normal circulating lifespan of a piece of writing—or past the lifespan of entire publications—the Archive preserves and maintains it. It’s surprisingly hard, logistically and conceptually, to remember what 2008 was like, let alone 1998, but miraculously, the evidence still exists. If it’s not quite like achieving immortality, it’s at least like no longer being buried in an unmarked mass grave.

This is the work that libraries have always done. Deep in the stacks, you can physically take a book off a shelf that no one else has checked out in 20 years. You could semi-physically, or semi-virtually, flip through a long-gone newspaper with a spin of a microfiche reel. One of my greatest thrills, when I became an author, was hearing from someone that their ordinary public library in some ordinary city had a copy of my book—a thrill quite different from the regular good news of knowing that some person had spent money to put a copy on their home bookshelf. In the library, my book could be read by anyone.

I was happy, then, to participate in the Open Library project, by putting my own work into an anthology to be published for digital lending. I understand—at a deep level, the level on which I wonder how I will pay the mortgage and what I will eat in my old age—how alarming the Open Library can sound to a writer. I feel that alarm: the sense that our already precariously remunerated work might be distributed for no money at all, that the greedy and impersonal culture of torrenting and piracy might be coming for us, too.

But practically, the idea is the idea of the library book. A single copy—bought and paid for—shared with one person at a time, and then returned to the shelf. The distribution may be virtual and seemingly unreal, but it behaves like a solid item. It behaves more like a solid item, in fact, than many provisionally available movies or texts on the consumer market, which act as your personal property for only as long as the underlying licensing agreement between the rights-holder and the seller lasts. That sort of dissolving culture isn’t a renewable revenue source, it’s a path to scarcity and amnesia.