On Friday, September 2, we filed a brief in opposition to the four publishers that sued Internet Archive in June 2020: Hachette Book Group, Harper Collins Publishers, John Wiley & Sons, and Penguin Random House. This is the second of three briefs from us that will help the Court decide the case.
As many of you know, these four publishers sued the Internet Archive to try to shut down our digital lending program. The lawsuit has been ongoing for over two years now. In addition to the papers that have gone in so far, there will be one more opportunity, later this fall, for the parties to file arguments with the court. These will be the “reply” briefs. At that point, the filing of papers tends to cease. The Court will then decide whether or not it wants to hear from the parties in person–through “oral argument.” After that, the Court will make a decision on this set of briefs. That could resolve the case in its entirety, or it could lead to a trial and/or appeal. In the end, the lawsuit could take some years to resolve.
Our opposition brief responds to the arguments raised in the publisher’s motion for summary judgment. There, some of the world’s largest and most-profitable publishers complained that sometimes “Americans who read an ebook use free library copies, rather than purchasing a commercial ebook.” They believe that copyright law gives them the right to control how libraries lend the books they own, and demand that libraries implement the restrictive terms and conditions that publishers prefer.
Our opposition brief explains that “[p]ublishers do not have a right to limit libraries only to inefficient lending methods, in hopes that those inefficiencies will lead frustrated library patrons to buy their own copies.” The record in this case shows that publishers have suffered no economic harm as a result of our controlled digital lending–indeed, publishers have earned record profits in recent years. “[D]igital lending of physical books costs rightsholders no more or less than, for example, lending books via a bookmobile or interlibrary loan. In each case, the books the library lends are bought and paid for, ensuring that rightsholders receive all of the financial benefits to which they are entitled.”
The future of library lending is at stake in this lawsuit. We will keep fighting to prove that copyright does not stand in the way of a library’s right to do what libraries have always done: lend the books it owns to one patron at a time.