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Authors Guild Stands with Publishers in Internet Archive Infringement Lawsuit

Publishers are seeking summary judgment in the two-year long litigation

On July 7, 2022, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, and Wiley filed a motion for summary judgment in their copyright infringement lawsuit against the Internet Archive, arguing that they have proffered sufficient evidence for the court to declare the Internet Archive’s mass scanning and distribution of in-copyright books illegal. The lawsuit also takes aim at the legally dubious controlled digital lending theory that the Internet Archive has used to justify its copyright violations. While we are not a party to the suit, the Authors Guild stands firmly alongside the publishers in fighting to stop the Internet Archive’s blatant assault on copyright.

As we have reiterated over the years, the Internet Archive’s scanning and distribution of copyrighted books through its Open Library portal (and the now-defunct National Emergency Library) is illegal: it is piracy, pure and simple, however artfully disguised as “fair use” and public service. Indeed, as litigation uncovered, the Internet Archive’s scanning operation—far from the beneficent public service its founder Brewster Kahle and its supporters pitch it as—is a lucrative commercial enterprise that between 2011 and 2020 generated $30 million in revenue from libraries.

Mr. Kahle evangelizes the credo “information wants to be free,” but authors, whose median income from full-time writing is a stark $20,300, are paying the cost. Time and again, we have explained publishing economics to Mr. Kahle and Internet Archive supporters—the simple fact that authors need to be able to earn from their writing in order to keep writing, and that copyright licensing is how authors make a living. More than 6,000 authors and their supporters petitioned him to stop. But our appeals fell on deaf years. Mr. Kahle himself made hundreds of millions of dollars selling patented technologies to companies like Amazon. He could have given his patents away and made his technology open source, but he chose not to. Yet he expects authors to stand by in silence while their works are copied and distributed without permission.

Books and other creative works are national treasures; the United States is fortunate to have so many award-winning authors dedicated to their craft and enriching the nation’s culture and society. It’s long past time for the court to step in and shut down this charade.

Click here to learn more about this case.