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posted by Fnord666 on Sunday March 29 2020, @06:31AM   Printer-friendly
from the reading-is-fundamental dept.

Internet Archive offers 1.4 million copyrighted books for free online

One of the casualties of coronavirus-related social distancing measures has been public libraries, which are shut down in many communities around the world. This week, the Internet Archive, an online library best known for running the Internet's Wayback Machine, announced a new initiative to expand access to digital books during the pandemic.

For almost a decade, an Internet Archive program called the Open Library has offered people the ability to "check out" digital scans of physical books held in storage by the Internet Archive. Readers can view a scanned book in a browser or download it to an e-reader. Users can only check out a limited number of books at once and are required to "return" them after a limited period of time.

Until this week, the Open Library only allowed people to "check out" as many copies as the library owned. If you wanted to read a book but all copies were already checked out by other patrons, you had to join a waiting list for that book—just like you would at a physical library.

Of course, such restrictions are artificial when you're distributing digital files. Earlier this week, with libraries closing around the world, the Internet Archive announced a major change: it is temporarily getting rid of these waiting lists.

"The Internet Archive will suspend waitlists for the 1.4 million (and growing) books in our lending library by creating a National Emergency Library to serve the nation's displaced learners," the Internet Archive wrote in a Tuesday post. "This suspension will run through June 30, 2020, or the end of the US national emergency, whichever is later."

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 29 2020, @07:44AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 29 2020, @07:44AM (#976877)

    Waiting lists are a germ, a virus. Heck, most people don't even know what to call them.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by TheReaperD on Sunday March 29 2020, @07:56AM (3 children)

    by TheReaperD (5556) on Sunday March 29 2020, @07:56AM (#976878)

    The copyright cartels could waive the restrictions and allow the books to be distributed freely. Even if the offer was only available and expired after a limited time. They could help a lot of people and it would cost them very little. But, of course, they care more about their precious copyrights than they do about people.

    Ad eundum quo nemo ante iit
    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 29 2020, @08:23AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 29 2020, @08:23AM (#976882)

      Copyright is an anachronism for any passive consumer of content. You can find everything you want for the cost of a few electrons, and downloading it is like a bear shitting in the woods.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 29 2020, @01:53PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 29 2020, @01:53PM (#976925)

        > You can find everything you want ...

        Actually, there is a lot of written material that is not available online, including trade secrets that have nothing to do with copyright. All sorts of specialized things have not been digitized. Our company library is full of interesting and potentially useful reports done for engineering customers (still owned by the customer). Last week someone asked me for details on a research project done in the 1950s and I pointed them to the material that had been made public (in a book, no eBook available).

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 29 2020, @03:05PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 29 2020, @03:05PM (#976944)

      But, of course, they care more about their precious copyrights than they do about people.

      But, of course, they care more about their precious profits than they do about people.

      There FTFU.

      To the copyright mafia's, copyright is a means to an end, that end is profits. What they care about is maintaining profits. Copyright is one way, but if it were unavailable to them, they would try many other ways to maintain profits.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by SomeGuy on Sunday March 29 2020, @08:17AM (3 children)

    by SomeGuy (5632) on Sunday March 29 2020, @08:17AM (#976880)

    Lets see how long this lasts before some publisher slaps with some lawsuit... wait, are lawyers considered an "essential" business that may remain open? :P

    At the rate things are going, I'm honestly wondering if things will ever get back to normal.

    This emergency has allowed so many things to happen, that plays right in to the hands of what certain groups want. Learning is relegated to cheap mind-numbing on-line crap, everyone is now 100% dependent on internet service, publishers always wanted libraries closed, some stores are refusing to take cash, increased security presence, restrictions on where people can go, "non-essential" employees fired (Trump probably jizzed his pants over that one) or teleworking and ready for outsourcing, and TV keeping people mesmerized over this virus while dishing up advertising.

    • (Score: 5, Informative) by TheReaperD on Sunday March 29 2020, @09:21AM (1 child)

      by TheReaperD (5556) on Sunday March 29 2020, @09:21AM (#976888)

      Oh yes. For groups that want things that are harmful or contrary to society know: 'Never let a good tragedy go to waste.' The reason they were able to pass the US PATRIOT act so quickly was because law enforcement and intelligence agencies had a wish list ready for the right tragedy that would allow them to pass it unquestioned. We went to war in Iraq the second time because Cheney and company were waiting for the perfect opportunity to settle an old grudge with Saddam Hussein, illegally seize an OPEC oil field, and turn a profit doing it. Did any of them cause 9/11? Outside of the opinions of the unhinged, no, they didn't. They just didn't let the opportunity go to waste. They were prepared for the day the Twin Towers were stuck down, even though they didn't know that's what the event would be. The same thing is happening right now with the Coronavirus pandemic. It'll take a while before we discover it all. One I already know of is the EPA suspending environmental rules [] such as requiring oil companies to monitor and repair oil pipelines that are/may be leaking into water supplies. This request was made by the American Petroleum Institute, of course.

      Ad eundum quo nemo ante iit
      • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Sunday March 29 2020, @01:50PM

        by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Sunday March 29 2020, @01:50PM (#976924) Journal

        Yeah, I heard about that EPA move.

        How about, abortions being deemed not medically necessary? Abortion clinics are to preserve their medical supplies for Coronavirus victims.

        However, Americans should keep going to work, because the economy depends on it. And, that's face time, not just telecommute.

        But I think the bad bull that is being cleared away will outweigh the curtailment of the good. One thing telecommuting revealed is just how much most companies distrust their workers. They'll cite all sort of other reasons why telecommuting is no good, but in the main, it's their fundamental slave-driving mentality that people are naturally lazy and must be constantly watched and goaded to get work done.

        It's about time this publishing artificial scarcity bull was ended. I've used the Open Library before. "Checked out" a book, copied it by taking screen shots, and "returned" it less than an hour later. It was incredibly silly. Felt like I was in a Monty Python sketch, Ministry of Silly Book Borrowing Rituals.

        I wonder if we can at last say bye-bye to the printed sales receipt. Stupid, BPA coated, archaic "proof" of a sale that's a pain to manage when you have hundreds.... I never used to use the back pockets of my pants, then I realized that was an excellent place to stick a receipt. That is, as long as I don't forget to take them out before throwing the pants in the wash.

    • (Score: 2) by hendrikboom on Sunday March 29 2020, @11:03PM

      by hendrikboom (1125) on Sunday March 29 2020, @11:03PM (#977046) Homepage Journal