Authors respond to Internet Archive’s so-called “Emergency Library”

Luke AlcottCopyright law, News, USA

Update: Please sign the Authors Guild Open Letter to Internet Archive to Shut Down the So-Called “National Emergency Library”

The Internet Archive has for some time digitised huge amounts of books per year and shared them without the consent or compensation of authors. It previously drew criticism from a wide range of authors, as well as the wider creative industries, because its system of lending does not honour the rights of creators and bypasses the rights of authorisation and remuneration that authors rely on. Authors are not asked for permission before their work appears on Open Library and they do not receive any remuneration for their work being used. The Internet Archive described their previous practice as “Controlled Digital Lending”. However, with wholesale copying of authors works without consent from or remuneration to authors this has effectively been piracy.

The Internet Archive has recently removed download restrictions on 1.4 million books hosted on its site. Previously, downloads were limited to one user at a time. With this limitation lifted there are even fewer limitations on the unauthorised use of many authors’ works, facilitated by the Internet Archive.

At this time, many authors are making generous efforts to make their works more readily available for people affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, many authors will be out of work due to this crisis and need income from their existing work more than ever. It is important for authors to have control over how their work is used, as this is necessary for them to ensure they can make a living while reaching as many people as possible. This move by the Internet Archive is in effect an effort to normalise large scale piracy, which will harm an untold number of authors and further deny their rights to control the use of their work.

IAF urges its members to reach out to authors to ensure they are aware of the possibility that their works are being used in this way and to offer advice on how authors can have their works taken off this website.

Many organisations have opposed this practice and have provided statements and example take down notices for authors who wish to have their work removed from this website.

Authors Guild statement: Internet Archive’s National Emergency Library Harms Authors

Sign the Authors Guild Open Letter to Internet Archive to Shut Down the So-Called “National Emergency Library”

National Writers Union Statement: Internet Archive removes controls on “lending” of bootleg e-books

Society of Authors statement: SoA deems so-called National Emergency Library ‘disgraceful and unlawful’

Authors Guild guidance on sending a cease and desist letter to the Internet Archive

Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America statement: Infringement Alert – “National Emergency Library”

Publishers Weekly Coverage of US response

National Writers Union information page: What is the Internet Archive doing with our books?

Joint Appeal from the victims of Controlled Digital Lending

If your organisation has a response to this event that is not listed, please contact us.