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Publishers Sue Internet Archive Over Free E-Books

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Brewster Kahle, the Internet Archives founder.

Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle said his organization was serving as a library while access to other libraries has been curtailed.

Credit: Lianne Milton/The New York Times

A group of publishers sued Internet Archive on Monday, saying that the nonprofit group's trove of free electronic copies of books was robbing authors and publishers of revenue at a moment when it was desperately needed.

Internet Archive has made more than 1.3 million books available free online, which were scanned and available to one borrower at a time for a period of 14 days, according to the complaint. Then in March, the group said it would lift all restrictions on its book lending until the end of the public health crisis, creating what it called "a National Emergency Library to serve the nation's displaced learners."

But many publishers and authors have called it something different: theft.

"There is nothing innovative or transformative about making complete copies of books to which you have no rights and giving them away for free," said Maria A. Pallante, president of the Association of American Publishers, which is helping to coordinate the industry's response. "They've stepped in downstream and taken the intellectual investment of authors and the financial investment of publishers, they're interfering and giving this away."

The lawsuit, which accused Internet Archive of "willful mass copyright infringement," was filed in federal court in Manhattan on behalf of Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, John Wiley & Sons and Penguin Random House.


From The New York Times
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