Internet Archive forced to remove half a million books

Last year, publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, and Wiley sued the Internet Archive for copyright infringement. The publishers alleged that Internet Archive's Open Library project had no right to digitally lend the 127 books named in the suit. Judge John Koeltl ruled in the publisher's favor.

The effects of last year's ruling have snowballed far beyond the original 127 contested books. The fallout has since encompassed some 500,000 titles, effectively curtailing library access to readers who depend on digital lending.

Publishers argue that the Open Library project cut into the revenue they would otherwise recieve from licensing fees.

To restore access, IA is now appealing, hoping to reverse the prior court's decision by convincing the US Court of Appeals in the Second Circuit that IA's controlled digital lending of its physical books should be considered fair use under copyright law. An April court filing shows that IA intends to argue that the publishers have no evidence that the e-book market has been harmed by the open library's lending, and copyright law is better served by allowing IA's lending than by preventing it.

"We use industry-standard technology to prevent our books from being downloaded and redistributed—the same technology used by corporate publishers," Chris Freeland, IA's director of library services, wrote in the blog. "But the publishers suing our library say we shouldn't be allowed to lend the books we own. They have forced us to remove more than half a million books from our library, and that's why we are appealing."


If you're in agreement with the thousands of voracious readers who firmly believe that this ruling constitutes a serious "blow to all libraries," you can sign the petition here.

An obscure copyright law is letting the Internet Archive distribute books published 1923-1941