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US publishers sue Internet Archive for copyright infringement

In the US, publishers including Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, John Wiley & Sons and Penguin Random House have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Internet Archive, reports Publishers Weekly.

The publishers’ suit in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York asks the court to issue permanent injunctions against the Internet Archive’s scanning, public display and distribution of literary works, which are made available through sites such as its Open Library and the National Emergency Library.

The publishers state they are suing not over ‘the occasional transmission of a title under appropriately limited circumstances, nor about anything permissioned or in the public domain’, but over the ‘purposeful collection of truckloads of in-copyright books to scan, reproduce, and then distribute digital bootleg versions online’.

The Internet Archive announced the National Emergency Library during the Covid-19 outbreak in March. The project removed access restrictions to around 1.4 million scans of books in its Open Library initiative and made them available for unlimited borrowing. The publishers claim the emergency library is an expansion of illegal activities.

The lawsuit has support from both the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and the Authors Guild. AAP president and CEO Maria Pallante said: ‘Today’s complaint illustrates that Internet Archive is conducting and promoting copyright infringement on a massive scale. In scanning and distributing literary works to which it has no legal or contractual rights, IA deliberately misappropriates the intellectual and financial investments of authors and publishers and brazenly ignores the copyright law that Congress enacted.’

In an email to Publishers Weekly, Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle said: ‘As a library, the Internet Archive acquires books and lends them, as libraries have always done. This supports publishing and authors and readers. Publishers suing libraries for lending books, in this case, protected digitized versions, and while schools and libraries are closed, is not in anyone’s interest.’


Category: International news