If one has spent a lengthy amount of time online, they may have stumbled across the Internet Archive once or twice. It’s a non-profit repository of digitized materials, including websites, software, games, music, videos, and books. However, it’s collection of books may be under fire from publishers who believe the Internet Archive is taking money off their plate. Its owners face a lawsuit over the ownership and lending of digitized books, and it’s a lawsuit Internet Archive intends to fight.
The lawsuit against Internet Archive was shared alongside a response from its organizers in a blog post from the director of open libraries Chris Freeland and a video statement from founder and chairman Brewster Kahle. According to both, Internet Archive faces a lawsuit from four publishers who have argued that the website infringes on copyright protections regarding materials and media under their purview.
“With this lawsuit, the publishers are saying that in digital form, we cannot buy books, we cannot preserve books, and we cannot lend books,” Freeland’s blog post argues.
Brewster Kahle goes on to argue that Internet Archive is as important to the preservation and circulation of digital media as any other library is to physical media, and that the nature of libraries themselves are under attack in this lawsuit.
“The Internet Archive is a non-profit library,” Kahle claimed. “We do what libraries have always done. What libraries do is we buy, we preserve, and we lend books to one reader at a time… This lawsuit is not just an attack on the Internet Archive. It’s an attack on all libraries. The publishers want to criminalize libraries owning, preserving, and lending books in digital form.”
It may be a stark message, but at the same time if the lawsuit succeeds, it could not only seriously hamper the mission of the Internet Archive when it comes to lending books, but also open the door for further copyright lawsuits against the group. As curators of not only digital books, but also massive amounts of abandoned applications and games from yesteryear, it can be argued that Internet Archive is performing a service that’s absolutely necessary. Stay tuned as we follow this lawsuit for further updates, details, and outcomes.