Internet Archive files final brief in publisher lawsuit

The Internet Archive

The Internet Archive has been battling a group of powerful publishers trying to shut down the site’s ebook lending practices.

Four years ago, publishers Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, John Wiley & Sons, and Penguin Random House filed a lawsuit against the Internet Archive for providing over 1.3 million books to internet users just as the COVID-19 pandemic was getting underway.

The publishers claim that Internet Archive engages in “willful mass copyright infringement” and that the website’s services “grossly exceed legitimate library services, do violence to the Copyright Act, and constitute willful digital piracy on an industrial scale.”

Meanwhile, in their latest filing IA maintains that their services are similar to that of a legitimate library which purchases copies of books in order to lend them to the public. The Internet Archive was founded in 2007 with the stated goal of “a web page for every book ever published.”

You can read their statement on the recent filing below.

Statement from Brewster Kahle, founder and digital librarian of the Internet Archive:
“Resolving this should be easy—just sell ebooks to libraries so we can own, preserve and lend them to one person at a time. This is a battle for the soul of libraries in the digital age.”

It’s worth noting that the Internet Archive only lends out digital copies for the amount of physical copies they own. However this restriction was lifted as part of the National Library Emergency initiative intended to give the American public greater access to library resources during the pandemic.

The publisher lawsuit is erroneously attributed to author Chuck Wendig, who made a tweet calling the Internet Archive a pirate site. He’s since walked back his statement, calling it a “Bad Tweet” and has since signed an open letter defending the site.

Chuck Wendig

Chris Freeland from the Internet Archive also came out to defend Wendig.

While it’s tempting to blame the man who penned such phrases as “four-alarm fart”, the blame lies with publishers.

Both book and video game publishers are historically over-protective of their work, using copyright law to stand in the way of preservation purposes.



A basement-dwelling ogre, Brandon's a fan of indie games and slice of life anime. Has too many games and not enough time.

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