In September 2022, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers (AAP) released statements in response to Fight for the Future’s ‘In Solidarity with Libraries’ letter falsely claiming that the lawsuit against Internet Archive’s open library harms public libraries.

Terrence Hart, General Counsel at Association of American Publishers, said: That authors and publishers support libraries is not in dispute and most certainly not at issue in the infringement case against the Internet Archive, which is not a library. On the contrary, the Internet Archive operates an unlicensed digital copying and distribution business that copies millions of literary works without permission and gives them away for free. This activity is unprecedented and outside any reasonable interpretation of the copyright law that grants to authors the decision as to whether, when, through whom, and on what terms to distribute their works to the public.

If the rights holder chooses to permit the copying of print books into e-books, that is a choice they are empowered to make as to their own works. The Internet Archive robs authors and publishers of that choice. As is made clear in the publishers’ suitmotion for summary judgement, and opposition brief, this case is about protecting the thousands of authors and publishers who depend on the copyright law that Congress enacted and the Internet Archive has elected to ignore.

The Authors Guild shared a joint statement that 24 organizations had signed, expressing concern over the letter: While there are principles stated in the letter with which we agree, it is highly misleading both regarding the lawsuits that publishers have filed against the Internet Archive’s Open Library and in falsely equating the Open Library project with the purchasing and lending practices of public libraries generally. The truth is that the lawsuit is completely unrelated to current practices of real libraries. The Internet Archive’s Open Library operates an unlicensed digital copying and distribution business that copies millions of literary works without permission and gives them away for free in direct violation of U.S. copyright law. 

The statement also underlined five important facts:

  • In speaking with authors who signed this letter because they support public libraries, the Authors Guild found they feel misled about the purpose of this letter. For instance, Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) disavows the letter and supports the lawsuit.
  • The lawsuit against Open Library is completely unrelated to the traditional rights of libraries to own and preserve books. It is about Open Library’s attempt to stretch fair use to the breaking point – where any website that calls itself a library could scan books and make them publicly available – a practice engaged in by ebook pirates, not libraries.
  • Fight for the Future is closely related with IA; it is not an independent organization.
  • Between 2011 and 2020, IA had the gall to charge the small percentage of US public libraries and universities it works with more than US$35 million to scan the books in their collections. That US$35 million could have been spent to purchase eBook licenses legally for library patrons to check out and ensure that the authors who wrote the books received the royalties they are entitled to under copyright law.
  • The lawsuit is being brought only against IA’s Open Library; it will not impact in any way the Wayback Machine or any other services IA offers.
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