Call for Proposals: Advancing Inclusive Computational Research with Archives Research Compute Hub

Last summer, Internet Archive launched ARCH (Archives Research Compute Hub), a research service that supports creation, computational analysis, sharing, and preservation of research datasets from terabytes and even petabytes of data from digital collections – with an initial focus on web archive collections. In line with Internet Archive’s mission to provide “universal access to all knowledge” we aim to make ARCH as universally accessible as possible. 

Computational research and education cannot remain solely accessible to the world’s most well-resourced organizations.  With philanthropic support, Internet Archive is initiating Advancing Inclusive Computational Research with ARCH, a pilot program specifically designed to support an initial cohort of five less well-resourced organizations throughout the world. 

Opportunity

  • Organizational access to ARCH for 1 year – supporting research teams, pedagogical efforts, and/or library, archive, and museum worker experimentation.  
  • Access to thousands of curated web archive collections – abundant thematic range with potential to drive multidisciplinary research and education. 
  • Enhanced Internet Archive training and support – expert synchronous and asynchronous support from Internet Archive staff. 
  • Cohort experience – opportunities to share challenges and successes with a supportive group of peers. 

Eligibility

  • Demonstrated need-based rationale for participation in Advancing Inclusive Computational Research with Archives Research Compute Hub: we will take a number of factors into consideration, including but not limited to stated organizational resources relative to peer organizations, ongoing experience contending with historic and contemporary inequities, as well as levels of national development as assessed by the United Nations Least Developed Countries effort and Human Development Index
  • Organization type: universities, research institutes, libraries, archives, museums, government offices, non-governmental organizations. 

Apply

Submission deadline: 2/26/2024

Decisions communicated to applications: 3/11/2024

Program begins: 3/25/2024

Apply here. 

NEXT WEEK: Celebrate the Public Domain In-Person & Online!

We’ve heard you loud and clear since January 1—you love the public domain! We do, too, so let’s celebrate together…

Next week we have two events to help welcome the new works of art that entered the public domain (in the US) on January 1. We hope you can join us in-person or online:

Wednesday, January 24

Public Domain Day Party in San Francisco! Celebrate 1928
In-Person at the Internet Archive
6pm – 8pm PT
$15 registration – Register now!

Step into a time capsule of creativity as we celebrate the release of new cultural treasures into the public domain. Join us for an unforgettable evening filled with period tunes, classic cocktails, and a cinematic journey into the past. These works, once bound by copyright restrictions, will be released into the wild, opening up new opportunities for artistic expression, adaptation, and innovation.

Thursday, January 25

Weird Tales from the Public Domain: Freeing Culture from Corporate Captivity
Online
10am PT – 11:30am PT
Free – Register now!

The mouse that became Mickey is finally free of his corporate captivity as the copyright term of the 1928 animated Disney film, Steamboat Willie, expired along with that of thousands of other cultural works on the first day of 2024.

Join us for a virtual celebration with an amazing lineup of academics, librarians, musicians, artists and advocates coming together to help illuminate the significance of this new class of works entering the public domain!

Remix Contest – Deadline for submission is January 19

There’s still time to register for our Public Domain Day Remix Contest. We are looking for filmmakers and artists of all levels to create and upload short films of 2–3 minutes to the Internet Archive to help us celebrate Public Domain Day! Read the contest guidelines.

Mickey Mouse & Elon Musk Boost Libraries in Viral Week

Last week, Mickey Mouse and Elon Musk helped raise the visibility of library preservation and the Internet Archive’s mission across social media in an unexpected convergence of the public domain, popular culture and the publishers’ lawsuit against our library.

It started less than an hour into the new year. At 12:36am, we posted a 45 second clip from Steamboat Willie to X (formerly Twitter) with the iconic introduction of Mickey Mouse. By the next morning, the video had reached hundreds of thousands of views; by the end of the day, views had climbed into the millions. To date, the clip (above) has been viewed 10.2 million times.

As a result of that interest, people began looking at our profile and older posts. One key user posted a message of support about our blog post highlighting the amicus briefs filed in support of our appeal in Hachette v. Internet Archive, the lawsuit against our library.

That post, and presumably coupled with the visibility from the viral Mickey Mouse tweet, started a groundswell of support for the Internet Archive, with thousands of users sharing their thoughts on the importance of our mission. 

In that chatter, a meme started forming: “Protect the Internet Archive – pass it on

So many people were sharing this sentiment that “Protect the Internet Archive” started trending.

And then Elon Musk weighed in with “Support the Internet Archive!”:  

With Musk’s enormous following on X, activity across our profile and posts skyrocketed, including our reply, but none more so than the post he shared about our appeal. To date, the post has been viewed more than 20 million times. 

But it didn’t stop there. Because of the overwhelming level of support & visibility, we were getting dozens of messages from supporters asking how they can help our cause. In addition to telling our new followers about our mission, we also invited people to tell the publishers to stop suing libraries and sell us ebooks we can own and preserve.

And they did. Hundreds of users shared a message to the publishers with the hashtag #SellDontSue.

And then, like all viral moments, the attention faded. As of today (January 11, 2024), activity around our feed has returned to normal levels.

So what does it all mean??

While our time in the spotlight was brief, it was definitely meaningful. Now that we’ve had a little perspective and distance, we can point to three main takeaways from our viral week:

Takeaway #1: People love the public domain! Mickey Mouse moving into the public domain is a story decades in the making, so no surprise that there was an increased level of interest this year. However, we’ve noted an upswing in engagement for posts about the public domain every January, and excellent attendance at our public domain celebrations. We love the public domain, too, so we’re going to keep promoting the materials moving out of copyright year after year.

Takeaway #2: More people are armed with facts about the lawsuit against our library, and are voicing their support for library digital lending, digital ownership and preservation.

Takeaway #3: We helped more people understand the opportunities (preservation) & challenges (lawsuits) libraries face in the digital age. New people were introduced to our mission, to the legal challenges that libraries are facing in the digital age, and to understanding what’s possible when libraries are allowed to own and preserve materials for the long term.

So, a big thank you to everyone who shared posts, spoke out in support of the Internet Archive, or otherwise helped bring new visibility to our mission and work last week. We are committed to preserving materials in the public domain, fighting the lawsuits against our library, and continuing our mission of providing “Universal Access to All Knowledge”—onward!

Mickey’s Bad Day, or, The Ecosystem

One of the Internet Archive’s most viral tweets/toots/skeets happened at the start of 2024, with the announcement/reminder that the Disney short “Steamboat Willie” had entered the public domain just moments before. We have a copy of the film online for everyone to play or download.


Within a short time, even as the hour of midnight of January 1st moved across the earth, countless creations based off the Steamboat Willie character, ranging from the sublime to the profane, rocketed into the Internet.

Along with the flood of images have come a flood of articles and overviews of the legal and other ramifications of a public-domain Mickey Mouse. These are written by very smart people who have spent a lot of time considering these issues.

There’s no point is restating what these and many others are describing (Only Steamboat Willie’s design is public domain, Disney may utilize trademark law like a large hammer to enforce as firmly as they did their copyrights, etc.)

Instead, a few words about the creative ecosystem.

As a variety of slasher movies, costumes, crypto tokens, fan-fiction creations and general meme images of Steamboat Willie cascade into the first parts of 2024, it’s worth noting how the entire situation will feel unusual or a controversial subject to a number of folks.

What it is, however, is a too-long-delayed part of a natural process of works and copyright. The implementation of universal involuntary copyright that then lasts longer than the vast majority of human lifetimes means a disconnect, a vast gulf between the life of creative works and when they become a part of culture at large in anything other than a consumption relationship.

Copyright in the US (and via the Berne Convention and other lobbying, worldwide) has been increasingly extended over the years, often following the impending expiration of the Steamboat Willie copyright, and it has done so in the face of a 20th century that knew much shorter terms (and which led to works such as Pinocchio being used by companies such as Disney after they expired into the pubic domain). As a result of this, we’ve lost the rich ecosystem that creative works grew from, the back-and-forth, parody and reference and re-imagining that existed in previous generations.

The time extension of copyright, from 14 to 28 to “75 years or life of the author plus 50 years” to the current “95 years or life of author plus 70 years” has been a rapid expansion that has swallowed many creative works, and, combined with automatic copyright, has effectively ended a long-rich and held system of creations that could reference near-contemporaries in their works beyond the scope of parody or (often disputed fair use). What was a rich environment is now a rather dry landscape.

The ramifications of this have been many, but one of the most striking has been preservation – with works whose corporate or anonymous creators are undetermined, there is very little incentive to invest in their upkeep and maintenance, meaning that many early works tend to disappear in percentages that are heartbreaking for their size: half of all American films made before 1950 and over 90% of films made before 1929 are lost forever [cite].

That excellent copies of Steamboat Willie still exist are owed mostly to Disney’s own efforts to keep their materials under control and locked down for nearly a century. Steamboat’s fellow members of the Class of 1928 will not, ultimately, be so lucky. Each successive year of items released into the public domain will have a few “stars” to make the news and receive the artistic references that Mickey is getting this month – but hundreds, maybe thousands of works from the same year may never again see the light of day.

So, let us celebrate this temporary oasis in a truly barren landscape, and work, through preservation and protection for libraries and archives, to ensure each year is a more exquisitely complete and maintained ecosystem.

The World’s Most Famous Mouse Joins the Public Domain

This year we are welcoming many works from 1928 into the U.S. public domain (books, movies, images, etc.), as well as recorded sound from 1923.

Some of the big events from 1928 include the first machine sliced and wrapped loaf of bread being sold, the fatal Okeechobee hurricane, the failure of the St. Francis Dam in Los Angeles, the discovery of a moldy petri dish that would lead to the creation of penicillin, Amelia Earheart flying across the Atlantic, and a certain mouse making his public debut.

Movies

Everybody’s talking about Mickey. On November 18th, 1928 Steamboat Willie was published, the third Mickey Mouse film by Walt Disney and the first one to be published with sound. The prior two Mickey Mouse films, including Plane Crazy, had not been picked up for distribution so this was the public’s first introduction to the mouse. Steamboat Willie may have been named after another popular movie that came out in 1928, Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr., or perhaps the Vaudeville song, “Steamboat Bill” (popularized in 1910) which was included in the soundtrack (along with the 19th century song “Turkey in the Straw”).

But there were many other movies that debuted in 1928, and here are just a few noted examples:

You have 2 weeks left to remix films from 1928 into a submission for the Public Domain Day 2024 Remix Contest (deadline is January 17!).

Books

The second Winnie the Pooh book called The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne was published in 1928, along with other famous titles such as All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich M. Remarque, Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence, and Tarzan Lord of the Jungle by Edgar R. Burroughs. 

Browse some of the books published in 1928 on the site, including

Recorded music from 1923

Recorded sound enters the public domain on a different schedule, and this year we’re welcoming music from 1923.

Looking at our collections, it seems like the only song anyone really cared about was “Yes! We have no bananas” which was recorded by a silly number of musicians (including in Italian and Yiddish!) and even led to them trolling themselves with the “I’ve Got the Yes! We Have No Bananas Blues. Here’s the same artist, Billy Jones, both with bananas and annoyed about the bananas

The Jazz Age was really swinging, and 1923 saw the first recordings by King Oliver’s Jazz Band, including early work from Louis Armstrong on Dipper Mouth Blues. The first recorded example of jazz band boogie-woogie also came out that year, The Fives by Tampa Blue Jazz Band. And dancing the Charleston became a craze in 1923, thanks to Charleston from the 1923 musical “Runnin’ Wild.”

While the entrance to Tutankhamun’s tomb was found in 1922,  it wasn’t until February of 1923 that the tomb was unsealed and of course the event was memorialized in song, including  Old King Tut by Billy Jones and Ernest Hare, and Tut-Ankh-Amen (In the Valley of the Kings) by S. S. Leviathan Orchestra.

Some popular songs from 1923 that are have joined the public domain include:

Come celebrate the public domain with us in person in San Francisco on January 24th, or virtually on January 25th.

Friend of the Court Briefs Filed in Internet Archive’s Appeal

Last week saw a massive outpouring of support for the Internet Archive and our legal positions from prominent library and nonprofit organizations, as well as hundreds of librarians and academics, who filed amicus (“friend of the court”) briefs in the Hachette v. Internet Archive Second Circuit appeal. Read on to learn why they believe our appeal should succeed.

American Library Association and Association of Research Libraries. This brief supports the Internet Archive’s position that our use of Controlled Digital Lending is a nonprofit educational use rather than a “commercial” one, and urges the Court to consider the broader impact its decision will have on a host of everyday library practices that rely on fair use. “Libraries rely on fair use at every step in a typical digital preservation workflow, from cataloging to access.” Read the full brief here.

Authors Alliance. This brief voices the strong support of authors for the Internet Archive and controlled digital lending. “Authors want and need libraries to purchase their books, but the copyright system has never required libraries to pay for those books again and again in order to provide readers with access in formats relevant to them in light of evolving technology.” Read the full brief here.

Center for Democracy & Technology, Library Freedom Project, and Public Knowledge. This brief focuses on the significant privacy issues at play in this case. “Readers should not have to choose to either forfeit their privacy or forgo digital access to information; nor should libraries be forced to impose this choice on readers. CDL provides an ecosystem where all people, including those with mobility limitations and print disabilities, can pursue knowledge in a privacy-protective manner.” Read the full brief here.

Copia Institute. This brief raises the important First Amendment considerations embodied in fair use, arguing that the district court decision rejecting Internet Archive’s fair use defense put copyright law in conflict with the Constitution. “Copyright law should want to promote access to works, because it does nothing to promote progress if the law incentives the creation of works that no one can actually enjoy. In this case, enabling the books that were already lawfully readable to be read is what copyright law should instead be glad for the Internet Archive to do.” Read the full brief here.

Copyright Scholars. In this brief, 11 prominent copyright scholars argue forcefully for the Second Circuit to overturn the district court’s decision. “By eliminating the ability of libraries to use CDL as a means of ensuring long-term affordable digital access to their collections, publishers threaten the core functions of the library—acquiring, preserving, and sharing information. Avoiding those public harms urges a finding of fair use.” Read the full brief here.

eBook Study Group, Library Futures Project, EveryLibrary Institute, ReadersFirst, SPARC, ASERL, BLC, PALCI, Urban Libraries Unite and 218 individual librarians. This brief explains the history and development of CDL, how deeply embedded the practice is today, and urges the appellate Court not to disrupt this long-standing and widespread practice. “CDL has become a critical part of library practice in the United States because it provides a reasonable way to offer digital access to libraries’ legally acquired collections. Over 100 libraries across the United States rely on a CDL program to distribute their collections, particularly for out-of-print works, reserves, or for works that are less frequently circulated.” Read the full brief here.

HathiTrust. Digital Library consortium HathiTrust cautions the appellate court not to follow the district court’s ruling that IA’s use was “commercial” or harmed the publishers market, and warns against a broad ruling that could sweep in many other digital library practices. “[The district court’] ruling has been widely perceived by libraries as a threat to lending of digital copies in general, or even “part of a broader historical push to make libraries obsolete.” Neither the record in this case nor the applicable law supports such a result.” Read the full brief here.

Intellectual Property Law Professors. This brief focuses entirely on the district court’s deeply problematic ruling the the Internet Archive’s controlled digital lending program is “commercial.” “While there are many commercial fair uses, the Internet Archive’s digital lending program falls on the specially favored nonprofit, noncommercial side. The District Court therefore erred in interpreting “commercial” so broadly as to encompass the Internet Archive’s nonprofit lending.” Read the full brief here.

Kevin L. Smith and William M Cross. In this brief, two library and information scholars and historians with deep expertise regarding libraries and archives explain that “CDL is just one of numerous innovations in library services that have been developed and implemented through many decades and can be adapted to legal requirements. This case presents an opportunity for the Court to make clear that libraries, acting within the law, have the imperative to deploy technologies and build innovative services in furtherance of broad access to information.” Read the full brief here.

Law Library Directors, Professors and Academics. Over 50 law library directors, professors, librarians, and graduate students signed onto this brief arguing that the district court did not appropriately consider the public benefits of CDL. “Neither the public nor authors, both of whom are the intended beneficiaries of copyright, benefit from libraries spending public or community funds on the same content repeatedly instead of acquiring new content. The logical consequence is that the public has access to fewer authors and works, fewer authors get wide exposure, and fewer works are preserved for future generations.” Read the full brief here.

Wikipedia, Creative Commons, and Project Gutenberg. Three prominent open knowledge organizations filed this brief focusing on the damage the lower court ruling could do to all nonprofit uses of in-copyright material. “The district court’s decision contains factual and legal errors that, if endorsed by this Court, could threaten the ability of all nonprofits to make fair use of copyrighted material.” Read the full brief here.



Book Talks Draw More Than 2,000 Attendees in 2023

Internet Archive drew more than 2,000 attendees to its popular book talk series in 2023, held in collaboration with Authors Alliance. The books and authors represented in this year’s series covered topics as varied as digital copyright, the persistence of history and culture through preservation, early personal computing history, and the harms of political control and corporate surveillance. Browse the full collection.

WATCH NOW:

January 12, 2023 – Ben Tarnoff, “Internet for the People

March 9, 2023 – Jason Steinhauer, “History, Disrupted

March 28, 2023 – Peter Baldwin, “Athena Unbound

April 20, 2023 – Jessica Litman, “Digital Copyright

May 9, 2023 – Jessica Silbey, “Against Progress

July 13, 2023 – Laine Nooney, “The Apple II Age

August 24, 2023 – Oya Y. Rieger, “Moving Theory Into Practice

September 20, 2023 – Abby Smith Rumsey, “Memory, Edited

October 19, 2023 – Ian Johnson, “Sparks

October 31, 2023 – Cory Doctorow, “The Internet Con

November 16, 2023 – Howie Singer & Bill Rosenblatt, “Key Changes

December 6, 2023 – David G. Stork, “Pixels & Paintings

Unearthing Sweet Memories With Timeless Recipes

A vintage-style photograph of peanut butter cookies in a ceramic bowl.

Some of my clearest and fondest childhood memories are being in the kitchen with my grandmother and learning how to bake. 

My grandmother and my grandfather immigrated from Mexico to the Maryland suburbs in the late 1950s. Raising six children while learning English as a second language and living as a minority in a very homogenous community could not have been easy for her—but by the time I knew my grandmother, she was, to my eyes, the picture of American suburban domesticity. Alongside our Mexican staple dishes at the dinner table, my grandmother loved to bake sweet treats out of her much-beloved Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. And, as soon as I was old enough to hold a mixing spoon, I would be beside her, learning how to level the flour in a measuring cup and stirring the mixing bowl for bundt cakes. 

When my grandparents retired and moved from Maryland to Texas in 2003, that cookbook was donated–hopefully continuing to aid other amateur chefs to this day. But recently, I found myself wondering about one particular recipe. 

So, I turned to the Internet Archive and was surprised and delighted to find that we have a digitized version of the same Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook I remember so fondly from my childhood. And there, on page 258, was the first recipe I remember baking on my own at eight years old: a batch of Peanut Butter Cookies. Looking at the recipe now, I’m transported back to that time, remembering how proud my grandmother was when I showed her the cookies I’d baked.

I know that among the millions of texts in the Archive, there are countless other memories like this one waiting to be unlocked for numerous patrons. As I was perusing our collections, I stumbled upon some new favorites, including:

The recipe for peanut butter cookies found on page 258 of the cookbook.

I love each of these texts because I know each recipe contained within their pages likely has a story just like my own—beautiful memories of cooking them for and with loved ones. 

I hope you’ll also consider supporting our work in helping us preserve numerous cherished memories on the Archive. To make a year-end donation, please visit archive.org/donate. Thank you to all of our supporters who make this work possible.

Jessica Cepeda joined the Internet Archive’s Philanthropy team as a Major Gift Officer in 2022. She has a passion for engaging with donors and connecting them with opportunities to support the Archive. She comes to the Archive with a decade of experience in nonprofit development and individual giving, most recently at NYU Stern School of Business. She received a BA in the College of Letters from Wesleyan University and loves that her work at the Archive marries her passion for books and technology and her deep and abiding belief in providing free and open access to knowledge. Jessica lives in Brooklyn, NY, which she has called home for the last ten years. Outside of her work for the Archive, she enjoys traveling, reading, cooking, and exploring the city with her dog, Harry.

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.

Statement from Corynne McSherry, Legal Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is proud to join with our co-counsel Morrison and Foerster to represent the Internet Archive in challenging the district court’s ruling in this case.

For centuries, libraries have served their patrons by purchasing books and lending them for free. In the United States, libraries predated the founding of the nation – in fact they contributed to it by improving access to knowledge. Today, libraries serve many purposes, providing Internet access, meeting spaces, and even community pantries. But the heart of their mission remains the same: lending.

What has changed is how that core mission is accomplished. Like copyright law itself, library lending has evolved as new systems and technologies have created new ways to meet patron needs. For the past decade, that evolution has included controlled digital lending—a modern, more efficient version of lending that is used by libraries across the country. Controlled digital lending allows libraries to lend books via the internet subject to strict controls, for a limited time, to one patron at a time.

But four giant publishers claim that this service violates their copyrights and threatens their businesses. They are wrong: Libraries have paid publishers billions of dollars for the books in their print collections. CDL merely helps libraries better serve their patrons, but still lending just one book at a time. It is fundamentally the same as traditional library lending and poses no harm to authors or the publishing industry. In fact, the concrete evidence in this case shows that the Archive’s digital lending does not and will not harm the market for books.

The district court gave short shrift to that evidence, one of many flaws in the ruling. Another was that it concluded that the Internet Archive’s free public library is actually a commercial activity. According to the court, a nonprofit has a commercial purpose if it derives virtually any benefit connected to its a work – including ordinary nonprofit activities like attracting new members, receiving recognition from its community, or having a donate button its website. That definition of “commercial” runs contrary to well-established precedent. What is worse, it would apply to almost every library and public interest organization in the country. It doesn’t make sense.

Our brief explains why the court was wrong, and why controlled digital lending is a lawful fair use. But the core problem is this: 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.   

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. We are confident the Second Circuit will see that, and rule according.