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Internet Archive to Publishers: Drop ‘Needless’ Copyright Lawsuit and Work with Us

Publishers Weekly: “During a 30-minute Zoom press conference on July 22, Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle urged the four major publishers suing over the organization’s book scanning efforts to consider settling the dispute in the boardroom rather than the courtroom. “I call on the executives of Hachette, HarperCollins, Wiley, and Penguin Random House to come together with us to help solve the challenging problems of access to knowledge during this pandemic, and to please drop this needless lawsuit.” Kahle’s remarks came as part of a panel, which featured a range of speakers explaining and defending the practice of Controlled Digital Lending (CDL), the legal theory under which the Internet Archive has scanned and is making available for borrowing a library of some 1.4 million mostly 20th century books. “Please remember what libraries do: we buy, preserve, and lend books,” Kahle said. “Controlled Digital Lending is a respectful, balanced way to bring our print collections to digital learners,” he added, pointing out that once a physical book is digitized, it is only available one reader at a time. In addition, the scan and the print book are not allowed to circulate at the same time. “Controlled Digital Lending is a longstanding and widespread library practice,” Kahle suggested, adding that the Internet Archive’s Open Library program has been around for nine years. But the practice of CDL has long rankled author and publisher groups—and those tensions came to a head in late March when the IA unilaterally announced its now closed National Emergency Library initiative, which temporarily removed access restrictions for its scans of books, making the books available for multiple users to borrow during the Covid-19 outbreak. On June 1, Hachette, HarperCollins, John Wiley & Sons, and Penguin Random House filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York…”

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