Tag Archives: lawsuit

Stand with Internet Archive as we fight for the digital rights of all libraries

We stood up for the digital rights of all libraries today in court! The Southern District of New York heard oral argument in Hachette v. Internet Archive, the lawsuit against our library and the longstanding library practice of controlled digital lending, brought by 4 of the world’s largest publishers.

We fought hard for libraries today, and we’re proud of how well we were able to represent the value of controlled digital lending to the communities we serve. 

Take action!

While we wait for the judge’s decision, here’s how you can show your support:

Join the Battle for Libraries ✊
The internet advocacy group Fight for the Future has launched the Battle for Libraries, an online rally in support of the Internet Archive and digital lending. Visit the action hub to engage with other supporters & share messages with your followers across social media to spread awareness about our fight. Get started now!

Read a book! 📕
Check out a book from Open Library and read it online using the library practice of controlled digital lending.

Stay connected 🔗
Sign up for the Empowering Libraries newsletter for the latest updates about the lawsuit and our library.

Press conference statement: Brewster Kahle, Internet Archive

Brewster Kahle is the founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive. Brewster spoke at the press conference hosted by Internet Archive ahead of oral argument in Hachette v. Internet Archive.

Statement

The Internet is failing us. The Internet Archive has tried, along with hundreds of other libraries, to do something about it. 

A ruling in this case ironically can help all libraries, or it can hurt.  

The Internet Archive is a library I founded 26 years ago. This library has brought hundreds of years of books to the wikipedia generation, and now 4 massive publishers are suing to stop us.

As the world now looks to their screens for answers, what they find is often not good.  People are struggling to figure out what is true and it is getting harder.  

Digital learners need access to a library of books, a library at least as deep as the libraries we older people had the privilege to grow up with.  

The Internet Archive has worked with hundreds of libraries for decades to provide such a library of books.  A library where each of those books can be read by one reader at a time.  This is what libraries have always done. 

We also work with libraries that are under threat.  We work with many libraries that have closed their doors completely– libraries with unique collections: Claremont School of Theology, Marygrove College of Detroit, cooking school of Johnson & Wales Denver, Concordia College of Bronxville NY, Drug Policy Alliance’s library of NYC, the Evangelical Seminary of Pennsylvania. I have looked these librarians in the eye and told them that we are there for them. 

They entrust their books to us, as a peer library, to carry forward their mission. Most of the books are not available from the publishers in digital form, and never will be.  And as we have seen, students, researchers and the print-disabled continue to use these books for quotations and fact checking.    And I think we can all agree we need to be able to do fact checking.

Here’s what’s at stake in this case: hundreds of libraries contributed millions of books to the Internet Archive for preservation in addition to those books we have purchased. Thousands of donors provided the funds to digitize them.   

The publishers are now demanding that those millions of digitized books, not only be made inaccessible, but be destroyed.

This is horrendous.   Let me say it again– the publishers are demanding that millions of digitized books be destroyed.

And if they succeed in destroying our books or even making many of them inaccessible, there will be a chilling effect on the hundreds of other libraries that lend digitized books as we do.

This could be the burning of the Library of Alexandria moment– millions of books from our community’s libraries – gone.   

The dream of the Internet was to democratize access to knowledge, but if the big publishers have their way, excessive corporate control will be the nightmare of the Internet.

That is what is at stake.   Will libraries even own and preserve collections that are digital?  Will libraries serve our patrons with books as we have done for millennia?   

A positive ruling that affirms every library’s right to lend the books they own, would build a better Internet and a better society.

Thank you.

Press conference statement: Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law

Lawrence Lessig is a professor of law at Harvard Law. Lawrence spoke at the press conference hosted by Internet Archive ahead of oral argument in Hachette v. Internet Archive.

Statement

Also available at Lessig for the Internet Archive on Medium.

We should all recognize — and celebrate—the importance of commercial publishing, for authors and creators everywhere. Commercial publishing creates the income that authors depend upon to have the freedom to create great new works. Without commercial publishing, much of the greatest that will be won’t be written.

But we must also recognize that culture needs more than commercial publishing. If the business model of commercial publishing controlled our access to our past, then much of who we were, and much of how we learned to be better, would simply disappear.

Think about the extraordinary platform that is Netflix. For a small price each month, subscribers have access to thousands of movies and television shows, far more than at any point in human history. The revenue subscribers provide in turn lets Netflix invest in new creative work. No one who knew television from the 1970s could believe that the quality of television has not improved dramatically over the last 50 years.

Yet Netflix’ archive is not endless. And each year, the site culls titles from its collection and removes them from its library. Netflix does this for many reasons — for example, the content could be licensed from third parties, and the term of that license has expired, or the site may see that demand for the title is meager, so bearing the costs of carrying it no longer makes sense. Regardless of the reason, the decision is an economic one for Netflix — Netflix makes available only those titles that it continues to make economic sense to make available. Such is the business model of a commercial publisher.

But culture needs a different business model. We need access to our past, not just the part of our past that continues to be commercially viable. We need libraries that assure we can see everything our parents or grandparents saw, so we can understand why they were as they were, and how they got better. Great libraries preserve access to as much as they physically can — not based on which titles continue to earn revenue. The past is just one more competitor for a commercial publisher; but for a library, the past is a gift that is to be nurtured and protected, regardless of its commercial value.

We are at a critical moment in the history of culture. The lawsuit that the Internet Archive faces will determine whether the business model of culture is the commercial model alone, or whether there will continue to be a place for libraries, and therefore, continue to be a practice of assuring as much access to our past as is possible. The particular fight in this lawsuit is important; the general fight is critical: Is the past that we have access to just the past that continues to pay? Or is the past we can have reliable access to the past that libraries strive to make available — not for profit, but for the love of culture and for the truth that that access to all of culture continues to assure.

Press conference statement: Heather Joseph, SPARC

Heather Joseph is the executive director of SPARC. She spoke at the press conference hosted by Internet Archive ahead of oral argument in Hachette v. Internet Archive.

Statement

Access to knowledge is a fundamental human right. 

We depend on being able to freely share knowledge each and every day. It’s foundational to how we navigate the world – from how we learn to how we work, to how we share our culture and understand our collective history.  It’s also the lifeblood of how we advance discovery, and attack the biggest challenges that we face as a society.  From cancer breakthroughs to climate justice, we rely on being able to access, build on and benefit from the knowledge generated by those around us. 

We take for granted that knowledge is just – there, and that ANYONE can get it when and if they need it.  But the reality is that too often, this simply isn’t the case.    Especially in the world of scientific research, knowledge is treated as a commodity, and often carries a price tag that makes it unaffordable to all but the wealthiest individuals and institutions.   

This is never more evident than in times of crises. From the avian flu to the global COVID 19 pandemic, we’ve seen the same pattern play out over and over again. When a health crisis looms, one of the very first thing that happens is that scientists, the public and policymakers have to plead with publishers to lower their paywalls and make sure that those who desperately need access to knowledge can get it.  Whether it’s access to develop treatments and cures, or to make sure students can continue to learn, knowledge shouldn’t be kept locked behind glass that can only be broken in the event of an emergency.  It should be readily available to all. 

Libraries play a critical role in making this happen.  They are designed to empower everyone – regardless of who you are, where you live, or your economic or political status – to access and use knowledge. Whether you walk into a physical library like the New York Public Library, or log into a digital one like the Internet Archive, you don’t need a PhD or a billion-dollar bank account to access the knowledge they hold. 

We depend on libraries to do the crucial things they have done for centuries.  Libraries collect. They preserve.  And libraries lend.  They collect materials to ensure access to the broadest range of ideas and facts.  They preserve these materials for the long haul, because access to knowledge should not be ephemeral. Stable, consistent, long-term access is how we promote continuity and ultimately understand truth.  Lending – one copy of a physical or digital object to one person at time is the bedrock process that libraries use to ensure free, fair and equitable knowledge sharing.   

Libraries like the Internet Archive exist to ensure the universal sharing of knowledge. Sharing knowledge is a fundamental human right. Nothing could be more important to protect than that. 

Press conference statement: Catherine Stihler, Creative Commons

Catherine Stihler is the chief executive officer of Creative Commons. Catherine spoke at the press conference hosted by Internet Archive ahead of oral argument in Hachette v. Internet Archive.

Statement

My name is Catherine Stihler, and I’m the CEO of Creative Commons.

As a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the sharing and reuse of creativity and knowledge, we strongly support the Internet Archive in its defense of Controlled Digital Lending. Free, equitable, and open access to all knowledge stimulates creativity, is essential for research and learning, and constitutes a bedrock principle of free and democratic societies.

The Internet Archive is leading the fight for establishing permanent access to historical collections that exist in digital format. With Controlled Digital Lending, libraries like the Internet Archive can lend one copy of digitized material from their collection to one borrower for a limited time, just like they would a physical book.

This isn’t a position that we just came to on our own; instead, it came from working hand in hand with cultural and knowledge institutions across the world. Like Communia’s policy recommendations state: “libraries should be enabled to fulfill their mission in the digital environment.” As libraries modernize their services, we need to protect the legal frameworks that support their digital lending practices.

Permitting and protecting Controlled Digital Lending is a key way to help ensure copyright is fit for the modern age. Guided by our strong belief in better sharing, CC will continue to support the Internet Archive’s crucial efforts to ensure the public can access knowledge and culture on a global level.

Updated July 5, 2023 to reflect published statement.

Press conference statement: John Chrastka, EveryLibrary

John Chrastka is the executive director of EveryLibrary. John spoke at the press conference hosted by Internet Archive ahead of oral argument in Hachette v. Internet Archive.

Statement

My organization, the EveryLibrary Institute, is a public policy and tax policy research organization focusing on issues affecting the future of libraries in the United States and abroad.

Alongside our colleagues at ReadersFirst, we joined an Amicus brief written by the Library Futures Institute, to ask the court to uphold a library digital loaning practice known as Controlled Digital Lending  – or “CDL”. CDL uses technology to enable a library to acquire, preserve, and provide access to digital versions books for library patrons. 

Simply put, CDL is a different way of utilizing the centuries-old method by which libraries have loaned the books on their shelves for the public to read.

Controlled Digital Lending – as is commonly used in libraries like the Internet Archive – does not replace ebook licenses, and is a reasonable practice for the current moment. For more than a century, Copyright law has allowed libraries to legally lend books and other materials they own. This practice of library lending is essential in ensuring public access to information, particularly books –  and has numerous social benefits. With the growth of digital delivery, libraries have adapted by lending materials using new technologies and formats. 

However, this lawsuit seeks to outlaw digital library lending unless they dictate how, where, to whom, and at what price it occurs. This would significantly alter how libraries work and their relationships with their patrons and collections in the digital age. 

I’d like to take a moment to remind the court about the context of the “Emergency Lending Library” and to ask it to consider the context under which the Internet Archive, as a library, was responding to need. From the launch of the Emergency Lending Library on March 24, 2020 to June 16, 2020, essentially every school district in the United States was closed to in-person learning. The Philadelphia school district was completely shut down with no substantial instruction happening. The school district of Washington, DC shifted part of their instructions to Television. According to Georgetown University’s analysis of MAP tests, Chicago Public School students lost the equivalent of 21 weeks of learning in the year following these shutdowns. 

The “Emergency Lending Library” from the Internet Archive provided a unique, important, and necessary service to Americans in this context. It was an exemplar moment for libraries which mitigated the harm of these shutdowns for students and their families.

The plaintiffs’ narrow interpretation of the Copyright Act ignores the broader common law doctrine, policy objectives, and history of copyright. Both Congress and the Supreme Court have historically balanced the interests of copyright holders and owners. 

The court should not rewrite more than a century of copyright law about libraries. Doing so will make it nearly impossible for libraries to fulfill their mission – especially in times of grave need and crisis – in the digital environment.

Press conference statement: Ashton Applewhite, author

Ashton Applewhite is one of more than 1,000 authors who spoke out in opposition to the publishers’ lawsuit. Ashton spoke at the press conference hosted by Internet Archive ahead of oral argument in Hachette v. Internet Archive.

Statement

My name is Ashton Applewhite, and I’m recording this in New York City on March 16, 2023. For over 40 years I have supported myself and my family by writing books for Random House, Harper Collins, Macmillan and other major publishing houses.

These publishers have served me well, but I am completely opposed to their lawsuit against the Internet Archive.

It will have a chilling effect on the efforts of all libraries to adapt as print culture migrates online, and it will also devastate the Internet Archive, which, as we hurtle into this digital unknown, is the single most important repository of human knowledge. No other organization is preserving and providing online access at this scale.

The Wayback Machine alone has archived 800 billion pages, millions of books, tens of thousands of hours of TV and radio news. And on and on. Humanity’s collective history, digitized, thank Heavens!

The Internet Archive exists. We need to be able to say that 100 years from now.

Press conference statement: Laura Gibbs, author & educator

Laura Gibbs is an author and educator. She spoke at the press conference hosted by Internet Archive ahead of oral argument in Hachette v. Internet Archive.

Statement

My name is Laura Gibbs, and for many years I taught mythology and folklore courses at the University of Oklahoma. Since I retired two years ago, I’ve been doing bibliography work at the Internet Archive, looking for the best mythology and folklore books that readers can borrow from the Archive’s library with Controlled Digital Lending.
Last year, I published A Reader’s Guide to African Folktales at the Internet Archive, which is an annotated bibliography of 200 books available at the Archive, beautiful books of folktales, myths, fables, legends, games, songs, riddles, and proverbs from all over the African continent. Some of the books come from African publishers and are hard to find in any library, but there they are: digitized and ready to read at the Internet Archive. 

This year, I’ll be publishing a follow-up volume, A Reader’s Guide to African Diaspora Folktales, with another 200 books of folktales, this time from African American and Caribbean storytellers, books that teachers, students, scholars, parents, people anywhere in the world can read online at the Archive. 

In the year 2023, we should NOT have to be limited just to the books available to us in our local libraries. We need a positive ruling in this case so that the Internet Archive can keep building their digital library AND so that other libraries can also make their resources available online, connecting more people with more books than ever before. The readers, writers, and researchers of the world need the Internet Archive, and we need Controlled Digital Lending.

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.”

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.