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posted by takyon on Friday April 10 2020, @06:12PM   Printer-friendly
from the trying-book-times dept.

University libraries offer online "lending" of scanned in-copyright books:

The coronavirus crisis has forced the closure of libraries around the world, depriving the public of access to millions of printed books. Books old enough to be in the public domain may be available for free download online. Many recent books are available to borrow in e-book form. But there are many other books—especially those published in the mid-to-late 20th century—that are hard to access without going to a physical library.

A consortium of university libraries called HathiTrust recently announced a solution to this problem, called the Emergency Temporary Access Service. It allows participating HathiTrust member libraries to offer their patrons digital scans of books that they can "check out" and read online.

HathiTrust has a history of pushing the boundaries of copyright. It was the defendant in a landmark 2014 ruling that established the legality of library book scanning. At the time, HathiTrust was only allowing people with print disabilities to access the full text of scanned books. Now HathiTrust is expanding access to more people—though still with significant limits.

The program is only available to patrons of member libraries like the Cornell library. Libraries can only "lend" as many copies of the book as it has physical copies on its shelves. Loans last for an hour and are automatically renewed if a patron is still viewing a book at the hour's end. If you want to read a book that's currently in use by another patron, you have to wait until they're finished.

These limits distinguish HathiTrust's service from another recently announced "emergency library." Two weeks ago, the Internet Archive announced it was offering the general public the opportunity to check out 1.4 million scanned books. During the pandemic, the Internet Archive isn't limiting the number of people who can "borrow" a book simultaneously.

Previously: Internet Archive Suspends E-Book Lending "Waiting Lists" During U.S. National Emergency
Authors Fume as Online Library "Lends" Unlimited Free Books


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by DannyB on Friday April 10 2020, @06:53PM

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 10 2020, @06:53PM (#980891) Journal

    Copyright is going to collide right into people's free speech rights to do their own original things that just happen to have some similarity to something, that someone else might have done. Imagine two different people doing something similar!

    If Copyright holders want me to respect copyright, then they should not have stretched it beyond all recognizable bounds of sanity. When authors or creators die, they no longer have incentive to create additional works.

    Why should an author or creator's work benefit their children or grandchildren? A plumber does work once, gets paid for it, and doesn't keep continuing to get paid for it. Gee, I sure wish the work I did kept paying me forever and ever beyond my death.

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