The latest judgement proposed in Internet Archive vs Book Publishers case put the IA in control mode – that it can no longer rent copyrighted ebooks.

Well, the judgement leaves a loophole to let IA scan the physical books for its library, but the publishers are against this practice too. While the court is yet to be clear on this, IA claims to go for an appeal to fight for the free access cause.

Restricted by a Lawsuit

Internet Archive, the web archiving NGO running a digital library, is tangled with a lawsuit that now restricts its eBook lending policy. To the unknown, donors to Internet Archive (IA) are called patrons, and they can rent a free eBook one at a time.

This restriction was removed during the COVID-19 period when most moved to online resources for their learning and business needs. Since IA allowed more than usual eBooks, the move triggered the book publishers – who sued the NGO for copyright infringement!

The consortium of Hachette, HarperCollins, John Wiley and Penguin Random House called IA’s ‘Open Library’ a pirate site, as it scans their physical books to turn them into eBooks and rents to its patrons for free. Though these eBooks are barred from copying or altering, the publishers are unhappy with the IA’s distribution.

Though they’re not against the public library concept, they typically offer an official license or negotiate specific terms before lending their copyrighted materials – books. The Internet Archive has no such permit, thus accused.

Well, a lawsuit against IA on this issue helped the publishers to obtain an injunction, restricting the NGO from lending copyrighted books without their official permission. But, a slight loophole in the lawsuit let IA continue its services – where the court ruling said they couldn’t lend ‘covered books’ without permission from rights holders.

And for what’s included in these “covered books”, the definition is yet to be cleared. Until then, IA says it’ll continue scanning the physical books of publishers which doesn’t have an official eBook version, but the publishers deny this too.

They claim that releasing an eBook format of a physical copy is at their will and shouldn’t be exploited by IA in the name of a free press. While they wait for a more explicit court ruling on this, IA said it’ll fight the underlying order, so an appeal may soon be filed.