Internet Archive Defends Digital Rights for Libraries

Earlier today, we filed our opening appellate brief in Hachette v. Internet Archive, reaffirming our commitment to preserving knowledge for future generations.

Statement from Brewster Kahle, founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive: We submitted our appeal to the court today to protect the core mission of libraries—preservation and access. This is a fight to keep library books available for those seeking truth in the digital age. 

Libraries are not just repositories of books; they are guardians of history and the published record. In this time of wars, election angst, and unstable moments for democracy, this fight gains even more importance.

Why should everyone care about this lawsuit? Because it is about preserving the integrity of our published record, where the great books of our past meet the demands of our digital future. This is not merely an individual struggle; it is a collective endeavor for society and democracy struggling with our digital transition. We need secure access to the historical record. We need every tool that libraries have given us over the centuries to combat the manipulation and misinformation that has now become even easier.

This appeal underscores the role of libraries in supporting universal access to information—a right that transcends geographic location, socioeconomic status, disability, or any other barriers. Our digital lending program is not just about lending responsibly; it’s about strengthening democracy by creating informed global citizens.

The stakes of the lower court decision are high. Publishers coordinated by the AAP (Association of American Publishers), have removed hundreds of thousands of books from controlled digital lending. The publishers have taken more than 500 banned books from our lending library, such as 1984, The Color Purple, and Maus. This is a devastating loss for digital learners everywhere. 

This lawsuit is about more than the Internet Archive; it is about the role of all libraries in our digital age. This lawsuit is an attack on a well-established practice used by hundreds of libraries to provide public access to their collections. The disastrous lower court decision in this case holds implications far beyond our organization, shaping the future of all libraries in the United States and unfortunately, around the world.

If this decision is left to stand, it will take away a library’s ability to lend books from its permanent collections to digital learners.

In the face of challenges to truth, libraries are more vital than ever. 

Let this be a call to action—to protect the core mission of libraries in our digital age.

—Brewster Kahle

Watch full remarks

Statement from Corynne McSherry, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation: “The publishers are not seeking protection from harm to their existing rights. They are seeking a new right: the right to take advantage of technological developments to control how libraries may lend the books they own.” Watch full remarks.

Statement from Michael Blackwell, public library director, St. Mary’s County Library, Maryland: “The digital revolution has helped libraries reach beyond our doors but also presented enormous challenges. Publisher terms prevent us from offering in digital the robust collections we have in print. Literally millions of titles will never be digitized by the publishers because they have no profit incentive. We cannot even guarantee that digital titles we license today will be available tomorrow. To fulfill their traditional mission—the  preservation and dissemination of knowledge to benefit the public—libraries must be allowed to share online the books they legitimately own, as the Internet Archive is doing. Both literally and figuratively, we cannot afford a future in which giant corporations keep reading locked away behind paywalls, and libraries own nothing.”

Statement from John Chrastka, executive director, EveryLibrary: “The Internet Archive is focused on the same goal as every other library: helping readers access books and resources. The ability to lend is fundamental to the work of libraries, and Controlled Digital Lending is a digital solution for that core role. The outcome of this case will have far-reaching implications for readers across the country. I hope the court affirms the ability of all libraries to lend.”

Statement from Winston Tabb, Library of Congress & Johns Hopkins University Library (retired): “The Internet Archive, under the inspiring leadership of Brewster Kahle, is one of the most innovative libraries in the world today. Its focus on preserving and making content accessible to users in responsible ways is a model for other libraries.”

How to Take Action:

1. Send a message to the publishers

Share on X (formerly Twitter): Post to your followers

Hey @HachetteUS, @HarperCollins, @penguinrandom & @WileyGlobal: Instead of suing libraries like @internetarchive, just sell them ebooks they can own & preserve for the public. #SellDontSue

Facebook & Mastodon:

Hey #Hachette, #HarperCollins, #PenguinRandomHouse & #Wiley: Instead of suing libraries like #InternetArchive, just sell them ebooks they can own & preserve for the public. #SellDontSue

2. Support the Internet Archive 

Support the Internet Archive to continue fighting for libraries.

3. Stay connected

Sign up for the Empowering Libraries newsletter for ongoing updates about the lawsuit and our library.

18 thoughts on “Internet Archive Defends Digital Rights for Libraries

  1. Tom

    Nobody can own anything any more. The observations in a book cannot be defended any longer, there can be no attribution. Apparently, the contracts publishers have with their authors still stand, in a CDL environment. Does a publisher have the right to identify material as worthy of publication any more, does an author have the right to assemble information and claim the products as his own, not any more. Be careful how you come at me.

    1. Tammy Walker

      The way digital worlds actually work seems to be unknown.
      Everything I ever thought to be true, was not.
      Information quality that is given, does not seem to match in kife it seems, unless you can be persuaded.
      How far foes things reach, and what are the laws? Cross border data transfers, different types of digital laws.
      Many pros and cons.
      Hiw about end-users that generate with ai labs?
      Metadata, errata, and other?

      It is all comfusing, and hard to believe anything.
      Common sense and I guess trying to believe that we all should have equal rights.

      1. TM

        have you noticed that entertainers are beginning to admit that screenplays are written by machines? They went right around ‘talent’

        I am looking forward to Disney being challenged in the public domain

  2. Khor

    My position on this issue is this: books and other creative works such as movies and games aren’t meant for a generation, they’re meant for all generations. Just because your descendants can’t pay for them doesn’t mean they don’t get to enjoy them. After all, by the time copyrights expire, the books will be out of print, the movies will no longer be sold and the games will no longer work.

    1. TM

      we need amnesia. Copyright covers instances of the same idea. (J)ames (B)ond & (J)ason (B)ourne, both spies, but one of them is a ‘me-too product’. That is why we need amnesia. The best thing is for them to be for a generation. Brewster Kahle is operating like a pirate. If he wants to attempt to monetize the public domain Createspace tried that already.

  3. Hendrix

    Archive for the win! Don’t let HaShit Book Group beat you down! HaShit has shown they don’t care about the health of the nation.

    HaShit Book Group needs to eat chette. Archive saves lives, HaShit Book Group is just greedy.

  4. Alphonse Davis


    How to Take Action:

    1. Send a message to the publishers

    Perhaps the most powerful message one can hope to send to the publishers who filed the lawsuit against IA is to stop handing money to them. Can IA please clarify whether Macmillan and Simon & Schuster were the two of the “big five” major US publishing houses that did not take part in the lawsuit so we know who the good guys are?

    When people who support IA buy new books, the last thing we want to do is enrich the publishers that have cost IA so much time and money.

  5. Tom

    post me:
    i am certain that the archive is not a library, it is a non-profit organization digitizing soon-to-be lost information that accidentally appears to be a library, but it receives no tax-payer funding. this is a fight that real libraries have opted not to wage, as it is in violation of intellectual property rights. the phrase *y3%x cannot be digitized because it adheres to no human language, therefore it is not sought out. but the phrase alice is much sought out. the world, therefore, does not need the service of an organization such as the archive to determine human language. libraries do not determine human language either, that is what publishers are about. the archive has this tenseness and this desire to dhl, it should write a book, not steal them. an organization with terms of service swearing to defend copyright wants to gain permission for piracy. that is what original repositories did by accident. so they get a point there. but to celebrate the strong-arming force of the united states’ public domain rule and to be impatient to wait the ninety-six years of homage is, like, so hypocritical. also i have serious problems with the use of the archive’s logo and the .org thing. they pretend to be the government, but they do not represent the people. ^i don’t do that.

  6. TM

    I’m reversing my opinion. Libraries are not allowed to ‘ban’ books, that would be DHL, determine human language, which they are not allowed to do, that is something for publishers. Therefore…. The notion that YOU think a book can carry the designation of BANNED, when it was not written as ‘a banned book’ interests me. It tells me you are weak. This is getting intense.

    Carnegie used philanthropy to stimulate the book-lending scammers – something to that. Your philanthropy is making a GIGANTIC insinuation that I would allow you to do that to publishing.

  7. k

    this is how copyright law is against The First Amendment, so avoid publishers exercising their intellectual property rights at all costs.

  8. TM

    Breaking the law + profiting = prison

    it does not equal = trying to get away with it

    Kahle needs to be locked up and pay $250k for each instance

  9. scientia potentia est

    At what point is public information and history not part of the commons? Digital lending is core to all libraries and therefore should be allowed. The publishers are overstepping their rights to make money off of something that is not causing them any financial harm and trying to set a precedent against freedom of information, speech, and public knowledge. The publishers have already made billions off of their publications. Eventually all works copyrights will expire. The internet archive is providing a service for many people who do not have access to information and therefore should keep up their work to preserve as many works as possible for future generations. #netneutrality

  10. Fernando Noronha

    Strongly agree with the quote when says “Libraries are not just repositories of books; they are guardians of history and the published record. In this time of wars, election angst, and unstable moments for democracy, this fight gains even more importance.” Indeed is the way to keep culture alive free and going..

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