Four of United State’s biggest publishers have sued a digital library for copyright in fringement, alleging that the Internet Archive has illegally offered more than million scanned works to the public, including such as favorites Toni Morrison’s ‘Song of Solomon’, Malcolm Gladwell’s ‘Blink’ and Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.”
“Without license and any payment to authors or publishers, Internet Archive scans print books, uploads these illegally scanned books to its servers, and distributes verbatim digital copies of the books in whole via public-facing websites,” according to papers filed Monday is federal court Monday in New York. “With just a few clicks, any Internet-connected user can download complete digital copies of in-copyright books.”
In March, Internet Archive announced it had established a “National Emergency Library” in response to the coronavirus outbreak that has shut down most of the country’s schools & libraries. According to the Archive, the emergency library would support “remote teaching, research activities, independent scholarship, or intellectual stimulation” with free digital materials.
On Monday, Internet is Archive co-founder Brewster Kahle called the lawsuit “disappointing.”
The plaintiffs, who include the Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, & Wiley, is seeking a permanent injunction against the library and an undetermined amount of money for damages. Court papers refer to page views on the archive site, more than 50,000 alone in New York state, but not to how many books were actually borrowed.
“There is nothing in the copyright law which authorised the mass copying of and distribution of 1.3 million scanned books to the public, regardless of whether those copies are downloaded by one person or millions, Maria Pallante, president and CEO the trade group of the Association of American Publishers, said in interview.
Monday’s legal action continues a long battle between the traditional publishing community, for which copyrights are in underpinning of the business, and the internet community, which has advocated making as much the material as possible available for free. Authors & publishers condemned the March launch of the emergency library, but historian Jill Lepore praised it, writing in a New Yorker essay that “If the books you need aren’t in any bookstore and especially, if you are one of the currently more than one billion students & teachers shut out your classroom, please: sign up, log on, and borrow!”