Hachette and three other publishers (HarperCollins, Wiley & Sons and Penguin Random House) sued the Internet Archive in 2020 after it opened a program called the National Emergency Library. The National Emergency Library expanded the Archive’s long-running Open Library program, which allows people to digitally “check out” scanned copies of physical books. The publishers called both systems “deliberate digital piracy on an industrial scale,” and in a March ruling, a New York judge substantially agreed.
The March ruling found that Internet Archive’s scanning and lending of books did not fall under the protection of fair use law, and an August settlement required it to remove public access to commercially available books that remained under copyright. . In addition to affecting the Archive, the ruling cast doubt on a legal theory called “controlled digital lending” that would allow other libraries to offer access to digitized versions of books they physically own, rather than relying on them. often expensive and limited Loan systems like OverDrive.
Internet Archive director of library services Chris Freeland acknowledged the appeal could be a difficult legal battle. “As we stated when the decision was handed down in March, we believe the lower court made errors of fact and law, which is why we continue to fight in the face of significant challenges,” Freeland said in the Archive’s announcement. “We know this won’t be easy, but it is a necessary fight if we want library collections to survive in the digital age.” Freeland says the Archive will share more details about the case as it progresses.
Court documents indicate that Internet Archive is still preparing its response to the lawsuit from UMG and other record labels; A pretrial conference in that case is currently scheduled for October.