Libraries have historically been trusted hubs to equalize access to credible information, a crucial role that they should continue to fill in the digital age. However, as more information is born-digital, digitized, or digital-first, libraries must build new policy, legal and public understandings about how advances in technology impact our preservation, community, and collection development practices.
This panel will bring together legal scholars Ariel Katz (University of Toronto) and Argyri Panezi (IE University Madrid/Stanford University) to discuss their work on library digital exhaustion and public service roles for digital libraries. They will be joined by Lisa Radha Weaver, Director of Collections and Program Development at Hamilton Public Library, who will discuss how library services have been transformed by digital delivery and innovation and Kyle Courtney of Library Futures/Harvard University, a lawyer/librarian who wrote the influential Statement on Controlled Digital Lending, signed by over 50 institutions. The panel will be moderated by Lila Bailey of Internet Archive.
Panezi, Argyri, A Public Service Role For Digital Libraries: The Unequal Battle Against (Online) Misinformation Through Copyright Law Reform And The Emergency Electronic Access To Library Material (March 26, 2021). Forthcoming, 31 CORNELL J.L. & PUB. POL’Y _ _ (2021), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3813320
Whenever I’ve had a book published I have celebrated every sale. But the biggest cause for celebration – the sale that always made me most proud – was when a library acquired a copy or two. Individuals may purchase a book, shelve it or pass it along to a friend, and thereafter it disappears. Libraries are forever.
This is the belief that underscores my enthusiasm for the Internet Archive. While the Atlanta Public Library may one day cull my book to make room for someone else’s, those words I labored over and so treasure, whether anyone else ever treasures them or not, are safe with the Internet Archive. And may it thrive and prosper.
This is all a very long way from my literary beginnings on a Royal portable typewriter. I wrote for newspapers and magazines – the Richmond Times-Dispatch, USA Today, National Real Estate Investor to cite just a few of the wildly different multiple dozens – from the early 1950s into the technologically bewildering 2020s. Eventually I added an MFA in short fiction to my BA in Art and veered into short stories, with a few tiny publication successes, including Dying unafraid (1999) and Perilous Times: An inside look at abortion before – and after – Roe v Wade (2013). When the internet came along, I tiptoed in via a blog for news aggregate site True/Slant.com which eventually morphed into today’s franjohns.net. With a little luck my short story collection, Marshallville Stories, will be published in 2022; the Internet Archive will get one of the first copies.
I’ve been following the conflict between U.S. publishers and the Internet Archive with some degree of horror and dismay. Publishers, I realize, are in business to make money and thereby stay in business. Do they not want people, as many people as possible, to read the books they publish? After the first flurry of sales (perhaps excluding the blockbuster books that will make big bucks for authors and publishers alike, may they also thrive and prosper) does it not follow that publishers would want their books to enjoy long and successful lives? That, at least, is the hope I believe most authors harbor. I can’t claim to speak for other authors, but this I know is personally true: I write for the joy of writing, and in the hope of being read. I’d be surprised if there were many writers out there who don’t feel the same.
So let’s hear it for libraries. And for the one that’s unique among all others, the Internet Archive.
Fran Moreland Johns has been writing (for newspapers, magazines, online sites) since the 1950s, and blogging since she was introduced to the idea via a paid blog for news aggregate site True/Slant in 2009. Her roots are in small town Virginia and her heart is in hometown San Francisco. She currently blogs on Medium.com and www.franjohns.net. You can read Dying unafraid (1999) online through the Internet Archive’s lending library.
In an effort to help more people understand how Controlled Digital Lending works, the Internet Archive is helping coordinate two sessions in July. Both sessions are free, virtual, and open to the public.
Empowering Libraries Through Controlled Digital Lending – July 13
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.
Implementation & Integration: CDL for All Libraries – July 14
For the second event in a summer series about the innovative library practice of Controlled Digital Lending, we’ll hear from libraries, consortia, and librarians who are exploring CDL implementations at their institutions and communities with hands on learning around potential and existing solutions. Learn about building institutional CDL policies, user experience for patrons and staff, technological platforms, and how you can get involved with the CDL community. Bring your questions, ideas, and be prepared to dig in!
Co-hosted by Library Futures, Internet Archive, Project Reshare, Open Library Foundation, and CDL Implementers
As a law librarian and author, Ben Keele wants to share his expertise on copyright with as many people as possible.
His book, The Librarian’s Copyright Companion, 2nd edition (William S. Hein, 2012), coauthored with James Heller and Paul Hellyer, covers restrictions on use of copyrighted materials, library exemptions, fair use, and licensing issues for digital media. (Heller wrote the first edition in 2004.) The authors recently regained rights to the book in order to make it open access. So after years of being available through controlled digital lending (CDL) at the Internet Archive, the book is now available under the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY 4.0), which means that anyone is free to share and adapt the work, as long as they provide attribution, link to the license, and indicate if changes were made.
“Nearly 10 years had passed. It’s probably been commercially exploited to the point that it will be,” Keele said. “This is what I would suggest to any faculty member. It’s sold what it will, and the publisher got the money it deserved, so we asked for the copyright back.”
To arrange the transfer of rights, Keele followed the Author’s Alliance’s advice. The California-based nonprofit provided a guide to rights reversions that he said made the process smooth and involved simple signatures by all parties. His publisher, William S. Hein & Co., was in agreement, as long as the authors were willing to give it first right of refusal for a 3rd edition.
Keele said he believes copyright is overly protective and he would advise others to do the same and make their works openly available.
“In academia, the currency is attention,” Keele said. “For me, it’s a very small statement. Copyright did for me what it needed to do: it provided an incentive for the publisher to be willing to market and produce the book. I think we achieved the monetary value we were looking for. At that point, I feel like the bargain that I’m getting from copyright has been fulfilled. We don’t need to wait until 70 years after I die for people to be able to read it freely.”
To balance the pervasive messaging from publishers about authors’ rights, this book emphasizes the aspect of copyright law that favors users’ interests, said coauthor Paul Hellyer, reference librarian at William & Mary Law Library.
“There aren’t many people who are advocating for users’ rights and a more robust interpretation of fair use,” Hellyer said. “Librarians are one of the few groups of people who can do that in an organized way. That was our main motivation for writing this book. With that in mind, we are very excited to now have an open source book that anyone can just download. That’s very much in line with our view of how we should think about copyright protection—it should be for a limited period.”
The authors have also uploaded the book into the institutional repositories at their home institutions, where it is also being offered for free.
Keele has long been a fan of the Internet Archive. In his work as a librarian at the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, he often uses the Wayback Machine to verify citations and check to see how websites have changed over time—frequently saving him research time. He says he was pleased to be able to contribute his work to the Internet Archive to be accessible more broadly.
Added Keele: “There’s so much bad information out there that’s free. Having some good information that is also free, I think is important.”
“Libraries provide vital public services by making high quality resources available to everybody. And that’s true no matter what you’ve got in your bank account or your zip code,” said Wyden, noting he is the son of a librarian. “If the system is filled with draconian copyright laws and digital restrictions that make it hard for real news to be read, shared, and discussed, that particular vacuum is filled with more misinformation and lies.”
Big special interests have always pushed for tighter restrictions on content, Wyden said, and now powerful corporations are trying to get a tighter grip on the internet. He cautioned that the proposed Digital Copyright Act is not the answer, saying he would fight for more balanced intellectual property laws and support libraries to provide easy, free access to reliable information from trustworthy sources.
“We want a game with many winners. We want to have many authors, publishers, booksellers, libraries—and everyone a reader,” said Internet Archive Founder Brewster Kahle at the event. “The only way to do that is to have a level playing field that doesn’t have monopoly control.”
The pandemic has underscored the need for digital content to be readily available to the public. Libraries should be able to lend and preserve just as they have with print materials for years, however, many large publishers refuse to sell e-books to libraries and instead have restrictive licensing agreements.
“We’re seeing a change in the environment, which means you still need a card to get access to books, but it’s no longer a library card, it’s increasingly a credit card,” said Heather Joseph, executive director of SPARC, a global advocacy organization working to make education and research open and equitable by design for everyone. “We really need interventions that work to combat that shift, to flip that dynamic.”
To expand access to knowledge, Internet Archive has been digitizing the materials and respectfully lending them one copy at a time through Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) since 2011. The widespread practice is embraced by more than 80 libraries as part of Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program, and is growing across the country in various implementations elsewhere as demand increases.
“If you actually take a look at how [CDL] operates, the lending function is really no more and no less than what libraries are able to do in print. It’s just changed formats,” said Michelle Wu, an attorney and law librarian who pioneered the concept of CDL. The practice can serve people who aren’t able to physically get to a library because they live in a rural area, have a disability that limits transportation, work odd hours, are ill or quarantined during a pandemic. Libraries want to reward authors for creating their works, but also ensure the public has access to those works, Wu said.
It would be a better use of public funds for libraries to be able to purchase ebooks, rather than paying repeatedly for licensing fees, said Wu. Also, a library that digitizes its collection ensures access in an emergency, such as a pandemic, and preservation in the case of a natural disaster, saving the government money in having to replace damaged materials.
To counter disinformation, the public needs reliable information—and libraries are at the center of this battle, said SPARC’s Joseph.
“We can’t amplify content that we can’t access. And that’s really at the root of what libraries do for society,” Joseph said. “We’ve always been the equalizer in providing access to this high-quality information.” Rather than libraries being a trusted and critical distribution channel, they are being treated by publishers as adversaries, which Joseph said is a dangerous trend.
The discussion touched on a variety of remedies including legislative protections to enshrine practices like CDL, antitrust regulations, and building market competition. The work of Library Futures was highlighted as an avenue for concerned citizens to raise their voices and panelists underscored the need for action that reflects the best interest of the public.
“This is not just an inconvenience, it’s not just an additional expense to us as consumers. It’s creating an enormous divide in who can access critical knowledge,” Joseph said of publishers’ actions to restrict access to digital content. “The right to access knowledge is a human right. And a world in which one player—or worse a company—decides who’s in and who’s out is unacceptable.”
In her 20-year career in the tech industry, VM (Vicky) Brasseur has championed the use of free and open source software (FOSS). She hails it as good for businesses and the community, writing and presenting extensively about its merits.
To spread the word, Brasseur has made her book, Forge Your Future With Open Source, available for borrowing through the Internet Archive. She’s also saved all of her blogs, articles, talks and slides in the Wayback Machine for preservation and access to anyone.
“I do it to share the knowledge,” Brasseur said. “Uploading the resources to Internet Archive ensures that more people will be able to see it and will be able to see it forever.”
As soon as her book was published by The Pragmatic Programmers in 2018, Brasseur said she wanted to have it represented in the Internet Archive. She donated a copy so it could be available through Controlled Digital Lending (CDL).
“I think CDL is great. I love libraries,” Brasseur said. “To me, I don’t see how CDL is any different from walking into my local branch of the public library, picking up one of the copies that they have, going up to the circ desk, and taking it home. How is that different from the Internet Archive? They have one copy of my book and check it out one copy at a time. It just happens to be an e-book version. I, frankly, don’t see the material difference.”
A supporter of the Internet Archive since its inception, Brasseur says she’s a regular user of the Wayback Machine. It’s been useful for her to be able to do research and for others to find her body of work. Recently, she revamped her blog and removed some pages—later getting a request from someone who wanted some of the deleted material. Brasseur provided a Wayback Machine link to where she’d stored them, making it easy for that person to find the missing pages. “It’s a gift. It’s legitimately useful,” she said. “Having the Wayback means that other people can still have access” to materials she no longer has on her website.
Brasseur has led software development departments and teams, providing technical management and strategic consulting for businesses, and helping companies understand and implement FOSS. She wrote her book not just for programmers, but rather says it’s intended to be inclusive and for anyone interested in FOSS including technical writers, designers, project managers, those involved in security issues, and all other roles in the software development process.
In the book, she helps walk readers through why they might want to contribute to FOSS and how to best embrace the practices involved. The book was been positively received and was #1 on the BookAuthority list of 18 Best New Software Development Books To Read In 2018. Recently, it has been picked up by people transitioning to telecommuting and looking for resources for doing collaborative work.
“Obviously, I do want people to buy the book, but I’m also strongly pro library, as most intelligent publishers are. My publisher is a big fan of making sure that their books are available in libraries,” Brasseur said. “So the Internet Archive is a library that anyone can access all over the world. And it just makes it a lot easier to make sure that the book gets in the hands of people.”
Brasseur is committed to helping people contribute to open source; for people who can’t afford to buy the book, checking it out from the library is an alternative. “If they can get a copy from Internet Archive, then they can learn how to contribute and they can make a difference from wherever they are in the world. Nigeria, Thailand, Netherlands, or Montana. You don’t have to worry if your local library has it,” she said. “In these times, in particular, it’s very difficult to get to your library. This is a great service that the Internet Archive is providing.”
Forge Your Future with Open Source by VM Brasseur is available for purchase through a variety of retailers and local book stores.
Leaders at the Milton Public Library (MPL) in Canada say they are continually questioning their operations and looking for ways to better serve their patrons. That’s why the Ontario institution joined the Internet Archive’s Open Libraries program.
“We are always keen to innovate, in meaningful ways” said Mark Williams, MPL chief executive officer and chief librarian. “Why would we not want to be in this partnership that expands our collection, but also extends assets to other people’s collections in a digital realm? It was a no brainer.”
In making its decision to become part of Open Libraries in September 2019, Williams said rather than being concerned about publishers, the focus was on the interests of the public.
“If it challenges the status quo for the benefit of readers, wherever those readers are, then I think we should engage,” Williams said.
As it happens, the timing of its membership was fortuitous. With COVID-19 disrupting access to the print collection at its branches, being part of the Open Libraries meant broader access to digital materials for patrons quarantined at home.
MPL has been a central part of the Milton, Ontario, community since 1855, serving a population of more than 120,000 through three physical libraries and its website (and with a bookmobile and four new branches in the pipelines over the course of the next 10 years), Library services were forced to be flexible in the past year as health circumstances changed in the province.
The three MPL locations closed on March 17, 2020, under a state of emergency in Ontario. By May, a phased reopening allowed libraries to begin limited operations. During the state of emergency, librarians pivoted to providing access to services only through virtual interactions and the website was changed to focus on promoting electronic resources. As restrictions eased, MPL provided curbside, contactless pickup. Eventually, 50 to 100 patrons were allowed inside the buildings with safety protocols. The libraries had to close again when COVID-19 cases spiked in the winter, and then reopened in February.
“The staff have been remarkably agile and good at adapting their approach,” Williams said. “We’ve done the best we possibly could to ensure the public library services continued, but the way we deliver it is different than anyone would have expected.”
In addition to joining Open Libraries, MPL donated 30,000 books to the Internet Archive. Williams said the expanded access to content in the larger online library has been a boon to the public. Regardless of the pandemic, MPL would have spread the word about access to Open Libraries, he said, but it was likely accelerated because there was no choice but to focus on digital offerings in the pandemic.
“The lockdown highlighted the ability for us to raise awareness about the partnership and introduce it to more patrons,” Williams said. MPL is creating a new portal on its website that will be dedicated to Open Libraries but has been promoting its availability in the meantime and the response has been positive.
“We’ve seen overwhelming demand,” Williams said. “Patrons think it’s a fantastic option for them to have increased materials than we currently have available.”
The transition to becoming part of the Open Libraries program was seamless, said Williams, and he’s encouraging other libraries to consider joining.
“I hope if other libraries sign up, they will be equally inspired by the partnership. The content is amazing,” Williams said. “Our patrons think it’s phenomenal. Our board thinks it’s a great idea, philosophically. Everyone believes this is an important service addition.”
Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) is growing in popularity, as is the community of practice around the library lending model. Next week, join Chris Freeland, director of Open Libraries at the Internet Archive, for a one-hour session covering new developments in CDL. Attendees will learn how libraries are using CDL, the emerging community around CDL, and the impacts of the library practice.
Register now Registration for the virtual event is free and open to the public. The live session is being offered twice for your scheduling flexibility; if you’d like to join, you only need to register for one session:
Academics, legal experts, and authors explained the thoughtful reasoning and compelling need for libraries to engage in Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) at a webinar hosted by the Internet Archive and Library Futures on February 11. A recording of the session is now available.
The panel dispelled myths about CDL, the digital lending model in which a library lends a digital version of a print book it owns. Emphasizing the limited and controlled aspect of the practice, the speakers said CDL allows libraries to fulfill their mission of serving the public in the digital age. The global pandemic only underscores the importance of providing flexibility in how people can access information.
Isn’t CDL digital piracy? No, CDL is not like Napster, said Kyle K. Courtney, copyright advisor at Harvard University, referring to the music file-sharing service. Twenty years ago, the actions of Napster were ruled illegal because it made unlimited reproductions of MP3 music to anyone, anywhere.
“CDL uses technology to replicate a library’s right to loan works in a digital format—one user at a time,” Courntey said. Libraries are using rights they already have, leveraging the same technology as publishers to make sure that the books are controlled when they’re loaned—not duplicated, copied or redistributed.
“Libraries are not pirates. There is a vast difference between the Napster mission and the library mission,” Courtney said. “We can loan books to patrons. Only now we’re harnessing that right in the digital space.”
In laying out the rationale behind CDL, Courtney described the “superpower” granted to libraries by Congress through copyright law to serve the public. The “fair use” section of the law allows libraries to responsibly lend materials, and experts say logically includes both print and digital works.
The idea of “fair use” has been around as long as there has been copyright, and it applies to new technologies, said Michelle Wu, attorney and law librarian at the webinar. The Internet Archive did not invent CDL. Wu is the visionary behind CDL, developing the concept in 2002 as a way to protect a library’s print collection from natural disaster—an imperative she faced in rebuilding a library destroyed by flooding.
Just as libraries lend out entire books, fair use allows the scanning of whole books, said panelist Sandra Aya Enimil, copyright librarian and contract specialist at Yale University. The law makes no mention of the amount of material that can be made available under “fair use,” so for libraries to fulfill their purpose they can make complete books—whether in print or digital—available to patrons, she said.
It’s a myth that librarians need author and publisher permission for CDL, explained Jill Hurst-Wahl, copyright scholar and professor emerita in Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies. “Authors and publisher control ends at the time a book is published, then fair use begins,” she said. “Once a work is legally acquired by you, by a library, the copyright owners’ rights are exhausted.”
Library lending is viewed as fair use, in part, because it is focused on socially beneficial, non-commercial outcomes, like literacy, said Hurst-Wahl. Also, libraries loan physical books without concern about the market effect—so the same rules apply if a digital version of the book is substituted.
CDL does not harm authors or publisher sales, the panelists emphasized. Indeed, it can provide welcome exposure.
“The reality is that CDL can help authors by enhancing discoverability, availability and accessibility of their works,” said Brianna Schofield, executive director of Authors Alliance, speaking at the event. “It helps authors to spread their ideas, and it helps authors to build their audiences.”
Many of the books that are circulated by CDL are rare, out-of-print books that would otherwise be unavailable. This source material can be useful for writers as they develop their creative works.
“Digital and physical libraries contribute to a healthy publishing ecosystem and increase sales and engagement for creative works,” said Jennie Rose Halpin, executive director of Library Futures, a newly formed nonprofit coalition advocating for libraries to operate in the digital space. Research shows that leveraged digitization increases sales of physical additions by about 34% and increases the likelihood of any sale by 92%, particularly for less popular and out-of-print works.
Because digitized versions can be made more readily available, CDL can extend access to library collections to people with print disabilities or mobility issues, the panelists noted. CDL also allows libraries to preserve material in safe, digital formats with the best interest of the public—not profits—at the center of its work.
“People love books and will buy if they’re able. But we have to remember that paper books and even some ebooks do not serve the needs of all readers,” said Andrea Mills, digitization program manager at the Internet Archive and lead on the Archive’s accessibility efforts. “Accessibility is a human right that must be vigilantly protected.”
For anyone interested in learning more about how to get involved with CDL, the Internet Archive now has 2 million books available to borrow for free, and an active program for libraries that want to make their collections available through CDL.
“The CDL community of practice is thriving,” said Chris Freeland, director of Open Libraries at the Internet Archive. “We are in a pandemic. Libraries are closed. Schools are closed. CDL just makes sense and solves problems of access.”