Let Readers Read

Ask publishers to restore access to the 500,000 books they’ve caused to be removed from the Internet Archive’s lending library.

Sign the Open Letter

I’m Chris Freeland, a librarian at the Internet Archive. The lawsuit against our library—Hachette v. Internet Archive—is fast approaching the oral argument stage of its appeal on June 28. I’ve been reflecting on our ongoing, four-year experience with this litigation and on the outcome we’re hoping for. Our position is straightforward; we just want to let our library patrons borrow and read the books we own, like any other library. 

We purchase and acquire books—yes, physical, paper books—and make them available for one person at a time to check out and read online. This work is important for readers and authors alike, as many younger and low-income readers can only read if books are free to borrow, and many authors’ books will only be discovered or preserved through the work of librarians. We use industry-standard technology to prevent our books from being downloaded and redistributed—the same technology used by corporate publishers.

But the publishers suing our library say we shouldn’t be allowed to lend the books we own. They have forced us to remove more than half a million books from our library, and that’s why we are appealing.  


The legal decision and resulting injunction against our library have already had a profoundly negative impact on our patrons. They have inundated us with so many inquiries that our patron services team needed to prepare a Help Document explaining why our collection has been shrinking so rapidly. 

We asked our patrons to share their stories of what losing access to these 500,000 books has meant to them. What’s clear from the hundreds of testimonials we’ve received is the ability to access our books remains an absolute necessity for the many people around the world who depend on our library for their educational and professional development: 

  • Mark, a researcher from New York, said that as an independent scholar without an institutional affiliation, he often struggles to gain access to books he needs for his research. He says that The Internet Archive has been a lifeline for him.
  • We heard from Lucero, an educator from Mexico City, who said that without our library, he wouldn’t have been able to complete his research on Mexican Sign Langauge.
  • Perhaps Mrittika said it best. She’s from a rural region in India and doesn’t have access to rare books. She asks the publishers, “If you are going to ban online availability of these resources, what about us?”

Take Action

In appealing the district court’s decision, our goal is simply to let these readers continue on their journey. We envision a world in which Wikipedians can verify facts by following citations to information contained only in our printed history; where libraries can serve their communities online with collections financed through public investment; and above all, where library patrons are free to read without fear of corporate or government surveillance.

Sign the Open Letter

Please help spread the word across social media: Bluesky, Facebook, Instagram, Mastodon, TikTok, Twitter/X

The potential repercussions of this lawsuit extend far beyond the Internet Archive. This is a fight for the preservation of all libraries, and the fundamental right to access information, a cornerstone of any democratic society. We believe in the right of authors to benefit from their work; and we believe that libraries must be permitted to fulfill their mission of providing access to knowledge, regardless of whether it takes physical or digital form. Doing so upholds the principle that knowledge should be equally and equitably accessible to everyone, regardless of where they live or where they learn. 

As we head into this appeal, our message remains clear and unwavering: Let readers read.

Lend your voice to this message by signing the open letter to publishers, asking them to restore access to the books they have removed from our library.

17 thoughts on “Let Readers Read

  1. Paulo Raffaelli

    I use the internet archive extensively for research pertaining to older technology, frequently obsoleted or from the early days of computing, and the Internet Archive is an invaluable resource.
    Should this decision go through, then the very concept of lending books from a library is endangered; the fact that a copy is digital or physical is a distinction without a difference.

    1. Lindsay MacCallum

      I am a regular user of Internet Archive and a donor. Some three days ago that my account was blocked and I couldn’t access books published c. post 1950. Will I be able to access these books in the future?

  2. Len Allison

    If the purpose of this suit is to restrict the readership of a publication to the original purchaser then the actual utility value of the item is greatly diminished. This can only result in lower original prices, lower volume sales and lower readership. New authors rely on generating demand by growing readership not restricting readership!

  3. Kamala Govindasamy

    Internet Archive is very precious to me.Why! because it gives me happiness by filling my loneliness.I’m an ardent reader of certain authors.I get their books here free.I feel very happy.I have notice they don’t have lots of in their collection now.It makes me sad We need their contribution.We value their efforts.We thank them immensely.We hope they get the opportunity to keep making people happy.Thank U.

  4. Rhungapen Narainsamy Pillay

    Thank you for providing the world with knowledge… God bless you all for doing such a marvelous achivement. Am from very little Island of Mauritius in thé Indian Océan.. This action Will definitely solve thé poverty dilemma… by providing knowledge to thé world… My very Best regards to you all..

  5. Dileepa Perera

    If there be thorns by V.C.Andrews I wish to read the story line briefly in English from chapter 1 to the e
    nd. Or in paragraph form as I’m anxious to read it.

  6. Zdenka Kopecká

    I miss the opportunity to read books from Openlibrary very much. The fact is I used to borrow romantic novels only, mostly published by Harlequin because the English is easy for me to follow. I can buy those books here in Czech Republic translated into Czech but that is not the issue. I want to read them in English. Please, return the books so people around the world may borrow them again.

  7. Fizeau

    Being French, trained in the law, and a bookworm in my spare time, I wonder about what happened to private copy right.
    The archive does not sell nor rent copies, so what is the f… happening in the mind of Hachette publishing ?

  8. Ann

    Several years ago I somehow stumbled across Internet Archive and was thrilled that I could read books for free online. I was so saddened to find out many of the books disappeared overnight. Imagine for a moment you work at a reception desk that must be manned 24/7. You are on the overnight shift, the midnight shift. Most of the world is sleeping but here you sit, bored to tears because there are no calls or visitors coming through, only the occasional staff member. You can’t bring a book, magazine or your cell phone. Movie, radio, and gaming sites are blocked along with all social media sites. Pre-Installed games such as solitaire have been removed form the computer. Internet Archive is a life-saver in this situation. Imagine there is another national shutdown (God forbid), and you aren’t allowed to work from home–you still have to go to work everyday and literally just sit and answer an occasional phone call, maybe 2 calls in an 8 hour period. What are you doing in those 8 hours? This happened to me. Internet Archives literally saved my sanity at work during covid shutdown. I was able to read and make my days go so much faster. Thank you Internet Archives. You really are blessing more people than you know.

  9. Kathryn Eickholt

    I mostly read for fun, sometimes to learn more about a subject. Many of the books I read just last year are no longer available which means I either need to buy or forego.

    We live in a very small community outside the US with minimal library service. There is no place to borrow what I enjoy, whether Harlequins, science fiction or reference books on history or art. Our library does not even have digital books and the entire collection fits into a miniscule space. Without Internet Archive I cannot read unless I buy. Frankly I cannot afford to buy every book that I want to read, even digital, nor do we have unlimited shelf space. (I own over 2000 E books, and about 500 physical books.)

    Intellectual property rights are very important to me and people have used my own material without permission so I understand copyright owner’s sensitivity. I thought long and hard about the IA lending model and decided it was fair because IA owns physical copies and the lending model is essentially the same as any library, except the IA serves the world.

  10. mel

    I actually buy more books from publishers than before, as does my family and entourage.

    We use the virtual lending site mainly to get a glimpse of a book before buying.

    We definitely buy more books than before the Internet Archive existed.

    Reading extracts at home allows me to easily select my list of books I want to buy, which I then just give to the bookshop by phone in advance, all we have to do is drop by and pay for the books. I have saved hours of stress-free time thanks to the Archive. Without them, I will be forced to rely on Amazon excerpts but that is not so consistent, some books have samples whilst others don’t, which is frustrating.

    The Archive has been a godsend to friends of mine who are elderly and disabled and have books delivered to them for the same reasons.

    Without the archive we will absolutely be buying less books from publishers, as we are so against this “backward” movement to attempt to suppress what the Archive is doing.

  11. Oea

    Our local libraries in the state I lived in in the US have been reduced to a few rows of children’s and you adult books, some cheap cookbooks and some crafting books. While the local library also has online access to some books, a great many are not available as e-book checkouts. The internet archive allows me to check out a wide variety of books that I do not want to buy or cannot afford to buy. Borrowing an e-book is the same whether it’s from internet archive or local library.

    Please let internet archive continue to lend books!

  12. Mary

    If books are made inaccessible, then people may find other ways to spend their time, rather than reading. It is certainly in the interest of book publishers to promote a reading culture.
    Please tell publishers that I do not buy books unless I have read them first and know that they are of such high quality that I will want to have them at home to study and re-read at any time. Thus, allowing people to borrow books to read is a good way to increase sales.

  13. David Vincent opolot

    I’m an author from Uganda and drafted several books which I need to publish.The Internet archives is so useful for our. I need more books to read as you know authors are always hungry with knowledge.

  14. hanh hong

    Internet Archive is very valuable to us. The source of material your book provides to readers is truly noble. We are enthusiastic readers of a number of authors. I am very happy to receive your books as a source of free book materials. It gives us more motivation to continue researching. We realize that now the Internet Archive library does not have many books left in its collection. We are sad about our collection because your intellectual resources are no longer on the library shelves. We need your contribution to help the library add precious book resources and help us continue. Use book sources. We hope they have the opportunity to continue using the books you contributed. Thank you very much.

  15. Raven

    I speak for all broke college students when I say this. What do they have against learners wanting to learn? I don’t think anyone who has the finances to buy physical copies would be here. All this development and freedom but when someone does a little harmless act of giving back to the society, this happens. Going to court for ‘justice’ while stripping millions of the access to knowledge. Nope. Not the justice you think it is.

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