The Guardian UK – “The Society of Authors (SoA) is threatening legal action against the Internet Archive unless it stops what the writers’ body claimed is the unauthorised lending of books unlawfully scanned for its Open Library. Set up in San Francisco 1996 to preserve pages published on the internet, the Internet Archive also collects digital books, offering borrowers access to hundreds of thousands of titles through its Open Library arm. Some are out of copyright, but the collection includes books from authors including AS Byatt, Kate Atkinson, Hilary Mantel, William Boyd, Philip Pullman and Iain Banks that are still in copyright and currently available to be borrowed in the UK. According to its website, the organisation began digitising books in 2005, because “not everyone has access to a public or academic library with a good collection, so to provide universal access we need to provide digital versions of books”. Today the archive scans 1,000 books a day in 28 locations around the world, through its book scanning and book drive programmes – with the “ultimate goal of [making] all the published works of humankind available to everyone in the world”. Users can borrow up to five books at a time, with each loan expiring after two weeks.
The SoA, which represents more than 10,000 writers in the UK, called on the Internet Archive to “cease making available to UK users the unauthorised lending of scanned books” via Open Library. In an open letter, the SoA said that in the UK, all scanning and lending must be authorised by the copyright owner. Despite this, users in the UK are currently able to borrow scanned copies of physical books from Open Library. “That is a direct and actionable infringement of copyright,” said the SoA. “Authors are not asked for permission before their work appears on Open Library, and they do not receive any royalties … We are calling on you to cease this practice, which … is unquestionably unlawful in the UK.”