Internet Archive founder calls for 'needless' lawsuit to be dropped

Internet Archive founder calls for 'needless' lawsuit to be dropped

The Internet Archive's founder has called on the publishers suing his organisation to drop their “needless” copyright infringement lawsuit and “work together” with him instead.

Brewster Kahle's organisation has come under fire for its for systematic mass scanning and distribution of literary works under a process called Controlled Digital Lending (CDL).

A lawsuit has been filed in the United States with plaintiffs including Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, John Wiley & Sons and Penguin Random House. 

However, Kahle stood his ground in a virtual press conference on 22nd July, Publishers Weekly reported.

He said: “Librarians, publishers, authors, all of us should be working together during this pandemic to help teachers, parents and especially students. 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.”

Defending CDL, he said: “Please remember what libraries do: we buy, preserve and lend books. 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 digitised, it is only available to 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."

According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP), Internet Archive has "brazenly reproduced some 1.3 million bootleg scans of print books, including recent works, commercial fiction and non-fiction, thrillers and children’s books", and "despite the self-serving library branding of its operations, IA’s conduct bears little resemblance to the trusted role that thousands of American libraries play within their communities and as participants in the lawful copyright marketplace".

The AAP dismissed any suggestion of the lawsuit being dropped, saying: "As the complaint sets forth, the IA uses its considerable resources to conduct and promote willful copyright infringement on a massive scale, having repeatedly ignored the objections of authors and publishers as to the blatant copying and public distribution of their literary works without permission. IA’s infringements, which are extensive and well-documented, are now appropriately before the court.”

A reply from the Internet Archive to the lawsuit is expected on 28th July.