Coalition of authors blasts publishers in legal battle with Internet Archive


  • Letter criticizes publisher lawsuits over e-book lending
  • Publishers Said Internet Archive “Library” Maryland Law Violates Copyright

(Reuters) – A group of more than 300 authors, including Neil Gaiman, Naomi Klein and “Lemony Snicket” writer Daniel Handler, released a letter on Thursday criticizing lawsuits by major publishing houses over book lending digital.

The authors said in the open letter, organized by digital rights group Fight for the Future, that publishers and their trade groups are “undermining libraries’ traditional rights to own and preserve books, intimidating libraries with lawsuits and smear the librarians”.

The letter said the authors were “disheartened by recent attacks on libraries carried out in our name.”

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The Association of American Publishers (AAP) is embroiled in a closely watched copyright dispute with the Internet Archive over the lending of individual copies of books scanned from what the Archive calls a digital library.

AAP members Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers LLC, John Wiley & Sons Inc, and Penguin Random House called the archive lending program a system of massive copyright infringement and said it “shows contempt for authors” by taking the market for their e-books. .

AAP General Counsel Terrence Hart said in a statement responding to the authors’ letter that it was “undisputed” that authors and publishers support libraries, and “not at issue in the infringement case against the Internet Archive, which is not a library.”

The publishers included statements in court documents filed in June by supporters such as author Sandra Cisneros, best known for her 1983 novel The House on Mango Street, who said real libraries “don’t do not what the Internet Archive does”.

In a separate case, the AAP won a ruling in June that struck down a first-of-its-kind law in Maryland requiring publishers to offer e-book licenses to public libraries on reasonable terms.

The state had told the court that the law was necessary to prevent publishers from overcharging libraries for e-book licenses. He said publishers often charge libraries up to three times more than consumers for the same licenses and often refuse to license libraries.

A federal judge in Maryland said the law conflicts with federal copyright law.

The authors who signed Thursday’s letter called on publishers to end lawsuits “aimed at intimidating libraries and diminishing their role in society,” and asked that they “enshrine the right of libraries to own and permanently retain books” and to purchase copies on “reasonable terms, regardless of format.”

The authors also criticized what they called a “smear campaign” to cast library advocates as “mouthpieces for Big Tech.”

Signatories also included writers such as actress and activist Alyssa Milano, rock guitarist Tom Morello, musician and poet Saul Williams, and writer and director Lilly Wachowski.

Read more:

Book publishers and Internet Archive squabble over fate of e-book lending lawsuit

Maryland’s e-book licensing law is unconstitutional, US court rules

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Blake Brittain

Thomson Reuters

Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Contact him at [email protected]

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