Author Archives: chrisfreeland

About chrisfreeland

Chris Freeland is the Director of Open Libraries at Internet Archive.

Alexis Rossi announced as RFC Series Consulting Editor

Alexis Rossi, the Director of Media & Access at the Internet Archive, was announced yesterday as the new RFC Series Consulting Editor for the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

The RFC Series contains documents that define how the Internet functions. The first RFC was published in 1969, when just a few organizations were trying to figure out how to communicate digitally. Now, 53 years later, more than 9,200 RFCs have been written by thousands of volunteers and these documents and protocols are the underpinnings of the Internet systems we use every day.

Alexis joins the IETF team to help maintain the archival quality of the RFC Series, and to provide guidance on the policies and processes for publishing these important documents. She will also continue in her role with the Internet Archive, managing the organization’s millions of digital items.

The Internet Archive’s founder, Brewster Kahle, who has his own informational RFC (RFC 1625) published in 1994 for WAIS (Wide Area Information Servers), said of Alexis’s new role, “From my own days working on WAIS, I know how important these documents have been to the development of today’s Web. I’m glad to know that someone with so much experience will be helping to keep this Series preserved.”

We wish Alexis well in her new endeavor!

September Book Talk: The History of the Computer, Sep 15 (virtual)

“A beautifully illustrated journey through the history of computing, from the Antikythera mechanism to the iPhone and beyond—I loved it.”—Eben Upton, Founder and CEO of Raspberry Pi

From notched bones in the ancient world to self-driving cars powered by modern AI, for centuries humans have used computing systems to solve problems & enhance the way we live. But who are the people and stories behind these advancements? In THE HISTORY OF THE COMPUTER, author and illustrator Rachel Ignotofsky presents a fun-filled & beautifully illustrated journey through computing history, checking in on the notable personalities, organizations & technologies that have changed our world.

Watch now:

In our virtual event on September 15 @ 10am PT, Rachel will be joined by Alexis Rossi, Internet Archive’s director of media & access, and Jason Scott, free range archivist, for a discussion of the people, the inventions, the passions, and the controversies that have defined the history of the computer and its role in our daily lives.

Purchase your copy of The History of the Computer from The Booksmith, our local bookstore in the historic Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, or your own local bookshop.

Looking for educational resources? Rachel has made all sorts of resources, including a coloring worksheet, available for use.

September Book Talk: The History of the Computer
Author & illustrator Rachel Ignotofsky in conversation with Alexis Rossi & Jason Scott from the Internet Archive.
September 15 @ 10am PT
Watch the recording from the virtual event

EDITORIAL NOTE: Updated 9/15/22 to remove registration links & include links to view the video.

Book Talk: Surveillance State, Sep 14 (in-person)

“Josh Chin and Liza Lin have given us a truly groundbreaking investigation of China’s embrace of digital surveillance. The global scope and deep detail of their account retires the notion of an ‘all-seeing’ surveillance as some future scenario; it is happening already. They will open your eyes to the astonishing intersection of data, politics, and the human body. Anyone who cares about the future of technology, of China, or of free will cannot afford to miss this.”
—Evan Osnos, The New Yorker

Join authors Josh Chin & Liza Lin for an in-person discussion on life in China’s burgeoning surveillance state. They will be joined in conversation by Xiao Qiang (Berkeley).
September 14 @ Internet Archive, 300 Funston Avenue, San Francisco
Doors open at 6:30pm, discussion starts at 7pm.

People living in democracies have for decades drawn comfort from the notion that their form of government, for all its flaws, is the best history has managed to produce. In SURVEILLANCE STATE: Inside China’s Quest to Launch a New Era of Social Control (St. Martin’s Press; September 6, 2022), award-winning journalists Josh Chin and Liza Lin (Wall Street Journal) document with startling detail how China’s Communist Party is striving for something new: a political model that shapes the will of the people not through the ballot box but through the sophisticated—and often brutal—harnessing of data.

REGISTER NOW

Registration is free for the in-person event.

Purchase a copy of Surveillance State at registration to be signed by the authors at the event. You can also purchase unsigned copies from The Booksmith, our local bookshop in the historic Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, to be delivered to you, or from your own local bookstore.

Book Talk: Surveillance State
Authors Josh Chin and Liza Lin
September 14 @ 7pm PT
IN-PERSON @ the Internet Archive, 300 Funston Avenue, San Francisco
Registration is required! Register now

Library Leaders Forum 2022: Registration now open

Join experts from the library, copyright, and information policy fields for a series of conversations exploring issues related to digital ownership and the future of library collections. Learn more about the event on the Library Leaders Forum web site, or register below.

This year’s Library Leaders Forum will be organized on two separate dates to provide attendees with a flexible environment in which to reconnect with colleagues:

October 12: Virtual

October 12 @ 10am – 12pm PT
Online via zoom – Register now

In our virtual session, hear from library leaders as they navigate the challenges of the ebook marketplace, and their concerns about the future of library collections as content moves digital.

October 19: In-Person

October 19 @ 9am – 3pm PT
Internet Archive Headquarters @ 300 Funston, San Francisco

At our in-person session, we’ll gather together with the builders & dreamers to envision an equitable future for digital lending. Capacity for the in-person session, held at our headquarters in San Francisco, will be capped at 30 attendees. Interested in attending?

Conference Workshops

Empowering Libraries Through Controlled Digital Lending

October 11 @ 10am PT – REGISTER NOW
The Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program empowers libraries to lend digital books to patrons using Controlled Digital Lending. Attendees will learn how CDL works, the benefits of the Open Libraries program, and the impact that the program is having for partner libraries and the communities they serve.

Why it’s Important to #OwnBooks

Here’s Max Collins, lead singer of legendary alt-rock band Eve 6, reading a book that he owns.

As you know, the Internet Archive is currently being sued by four corporate publishers. The publishers want to stop libraries from owning books. In the age of Netflix and Spotify, ownership of culture is increasingly in the hands of large corporations rather than people, artists and public institutions.

We’re fighting back by celebrating book ownership with the #OwnBooks campaign. 

It’s very easy to take part. Choose a book that you own that means something to you. You can also choose another media piece, such as a record, CD, or DVD. Take a photo with the book and share it on social media. Tell us why owning this books is important to you and use the #OwnBooks hashtag.

Check out why other readers like to #OwnBooks.

You could also tell us the story of your relationship with the book – what were the circumstances in which you acquired it? Does it spark any special memories for you? If you prefer, you could make a selfie video and record yourself telling the story of the book. 

We’ll retweet your posts. Make sure to use the #OwnBooks hashtag and mention @internetarchive to help us find them.

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.”

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.

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.

Librarian: If the publishers’ lawsuit is successful, “libraries of all varieties and the communities they serve will suffer.”

On July 8, 2022, Benjamin Saracco, medical school librarian, spoke at a press conference about the copyright lawsuit brought against the Internet Archive by four commercial publishers. These are his remarks:

Hi everyone. My name is Benjamin Saracco, and I’m a research and digital services faculty librarian at an academic medical and hospital library in New Jersey. My library serves the doctors, nurses, residents, and other healthcare workers in the hospital, and also the students, faculty, and staff of the medical school. 

The start of the COVID-19 pandemic was an extremely stressful time for me and my colleagues at the hospital library. In March 2020, the Governor of New Jersey signed an executive order that closed all libraries in the state. Even the physical books in my hospital’s library were unavailable to circulate for a period of time during the pandemic. I remember being flooded with requests from medical students, nurses, and doctors during that time, particularly front line healthcare workers that were seeking information about COVID-19 and COVID-19 clinical care information to address the high rates of hospitalization in our state. 

Some of the most commonly checked out physical materials in our library are training materials for patient care. While our hospital library’s physical collections were closed due to the pandemic, I received multiple requests for at least two such materials: a Manual for Basic Life Support, known as the BLS Manual for Healthcare Providers and the Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support Provider Manual. These books are used to train front line healthcare workers to handle life-threatening emergencies, for example by giving CPR or using an automated external defibrillator in cases of cardiac arrest, as well as more advanced skills to treat patients in life-threatening circumstances, many of which arose during COVID-19 in our hospital. Since our physical collection was unavailable, I searched for ebook versions of these materials in our database and did not find any.

However, I was able to locate older editions of both books that were available for borrowing at the Internet Archive, and was able to direct the healthcare workers requesting these materials to the digitized books at the Internet Archive. I also provided a demonstration over Zoom to medical school faculty on how to use the Internet Archive’s lending library to search for materials that might be useful for the curriculum.  As you can imagine, converting in person instruction for medical students training to be doctors such as working with human cadavers in a gross anatomy lab was a challenging endeavor to convert to a digital format.

From my educational and professional experiences as a librarian, especially during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I know the Internet Archive is an extremely valuable resource for the public. I have immense respect for the important work they are doing to ensure access to information through a digital medium.

As a professional librarian of over 12 years and an author and journal editor myself, I have been trained to always respect the rights of authors and publishers. In my view, the Internet Archive’s lending library is consistent with those rights. 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. 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.