Publishers Sue the Internet Archive Over its Open Library, Declare it a Pirate Site
Several major publishers have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in a New York court targeting the Internet Archive's Open Library. According to the complaint, the project is a massive and willful infringement project that amounts to little more than a regular pirate site.Back in March, the Internet Archive responded to the coronavirus pandemic by offering a new service to help "displaced learners".Combining scanned books from three libraries, the Archive offered unlimited borrowing of more than a million books, so that people could continue to learn while in quarantine.While the move was welcomed by those in favor of open access to education, publishers and pro-copyright groups slammed the decision, with some describing it as an attempt to bend copyright law and others declaring the project as mass-scale piracy.Today, major publishers Hachette Book Group, Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and Penguin Random House LLC went to war with the project by filing a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Internet Archive and five 'Doe' defendants in a New York court.
Several major publishers have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in a New York court targeting the Internet Archive's Open Library. According to the complaint, the project is a massive and willful infringement project that amounts to little more than a regular pirate site.
Back in March, the Internet Archive responded to the coronavirus pandemic by offering a new service to help "displaced learners".
Combining scanned books from three libraries, the Archive offered unlimited borrowing of more than a million books, so that people could continue to learn while in quarantine.
While the move was welcomed by those in favor of open access to education, publishers and pro-copyright groups slammed the decision, with some describing it as an attempt to bend copyright law and others declaring the project as mass-scale piracy.
Today, major publishers Hachette Book Group, Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and Penguin Random House LLC went to war with the project by filing a copyright infringement lawsuit against the Internet Archive and five 'Doe' defendants in a New York court.
See also: Lawsuit over online book lending could bankrupt Internet Archive
Previously: Internet Archive's Open Library Now Supports Full-Text Searches for All 4+ Million ItemsInternet Archive Suspends E-Book Lending "Waiting Lists" During U.S. National EmergencyAuthors Fume as Online Library "Lends" Unlimited Free BooksUniversity Libraries Offer Online "Lending" of Scanned In-Copyright Books
It takes a long time to get to the point.
(Saying things like 17 USC 108 makes this ok for libraries, but the Archive is not a library, but then doesn't mention that 17 USC 108 also covers archives. Strange.)
Around 109 in the complaint was more coherent.Basically that controlled digital lending with a controlled owned to loan ration might be ok, but the archive was neither controlling the lending or keeping the number of owned copies.
That seems a fact that is findable and one would hope the the archive has their ducks carefully aligned.
The Internet archive is a useful thing, the world would be worse off if they were taken out, but that doesn't make it ok to ignore the law.Not sure how/if the Pandemic changes this. That's a judgement call.
I'm glad that they're doing it, but I don't see how this is any different from pirate sites for the reasons you state. We definitely need to scale copyright law back to something more reasonable, but this kind of sharing shouldn't be legal. People genuinely need to have the ability to restrict sharing otherwise they'll be stuck charging huge sums of money for the first copy, knowing that they'll receive no further payment.
Just imagine if you'd have to charge $200k for an album, or probably more, that's crazy, but that's likely what you'd be left with if copyright were to allow things like what the Internet Archive is doing here.
musicians can get paid for performances instead of trying to charge for listening at home. They can quit releasing every song if they want to increase demand for the live shows. Authors could possibly be paid that 200k by crowdfunding or they can limit access to their works to members via their own sites/apps instead of distributing through other parties. I think blockchain based solutions for this already exist.
Are you a musician or author?Didn't think so. Plonk.
Imaginary property gets stolen. Womp womp.
Plato says that if you are a doctor to make money, you are a fee-collector, not a physician. Similarly, if you are in music or art to make money, you are a businessperson, not an artist. Now go shut the fuck up, you parasite collector!!
Do you have any idea how expensive it can be to record a complicated album, film a movie or write a book? Not all artwork can be produced without a source of revenue and patronage is not without issues.
A lot cheaper than 50 years ago, thats for certain...
There's no right to have a job sector preserved for all eternity for record company musicians or coal miners or gas station attendants or horse stable employees. Maybe the business of creating imaginary property to charge rent against it for all eternity is simply obsolete.
NYC big corporate commercial music will go away. Most people hate on it anyway. Actual good music has always come from people working side hustles and such.
I agree. No one has an inherit right to intellectual property. IP laws need to be held up to the same standard that we expect all other laws to be held up to. Their purpose should be to provide a net social benefit. To promote the progress of science and useful arts. Unfortunately their purpose has been twisted by lobbyists to promote corporate profits over the public interest. That's why it keeps getting expanded and extended, it's now opt out instead of opt in, and the penalty structure is one sided.
That's not to say that IP should be abolished. But serious reform is needed to make it serve the public interest and not just corporate interests.
Of course the corporate lobbyists that lobby for making IP laws worse and worse claim that it's about promoting the 'rights' (privileges) of artists and helping them out. So many things wrong with that.
A: Artists have no such rights. IP is a privilege.
B: It's not really about promoting the privileges of artists and helping them out. That's a lie It's about corporate profits. They use the artists as a scapegoat for their true underlying motives.
C: Even if it is really about the artist it should not be about the artist. Artists have no such 'rights', it's a privilege. It should only be about the public.
I can't think of a profession with a lower barrier of entry than writing. The equipment needed is incredibly low cost, if you go the low tech route of pen and paper. Even using a computer is not a big barrier. You don't need a powerful computer just to write. The lowest of low end computers is more than adequate for that, stuff that businesses routinely discard to make room for newer equipment.
I am a content creator.
When I release my creations into the public, I consider them ads for what I can do. If someone wants to retain me for private and confidential work, that is between me and them.
I support Copyright for, say, ten years, for theatrical works and specific mechanizations of some work, like how a vise-grip toggling mechanism is integrated into it's design, knowing that toggling mechanisms themselves are public by now.
More and more, I am seeing the basic tenents of copyright being used to enforce public ignorance for the immediate benefit of a very few.
Gutenberg probably wins the all time prize for enabling copyright violation, without it, the internet and our way of life probably would not be.
Ignorance is not bliss.
I see what I see only because I stand on the shoulders of those before me. And this paradise we are building can collapse like a Tower of Babel should too many of us become ignorant and cannot maintain the infrastructure our parents left us.
A bunch of Congressmen do not have the power to pen law to compel broken infrastructure to continue to function. Already, way too many of us in this nation are ignorant in the matters as to how to keep our stuff running, and the remnants of the baby boomers who grew up in the heyday of science are dying out.
Who will fix your stuff?
I'm glad you're content.
I'm a musician. Tens of thousands of people already release their music freely.Plus, musicians mostly make money through touring (this has basically always been true). Album sales are down (not just because of outright piracy, but because streaming is the new hotness). Revenue from streaming is fairly low.
Copyright on educational books shouldn't be allowed to begin with.
The Internet Archive just needs to claim that its roommate put the files up.
In a moment of changing the past history to a new narrative, archives and libraries are necessarily burned down.
It always been that.
Fallacy. You assume the conclusion as your premise.
Yes, libraries have been burned down, but not because of copyright restrictions. This is more about knowledge being liberated from imaginary claims of ownership by entities with no responsibility for creation. More like a library being opened to the public, and saved, shared and distributed to keep it from being burned by Christians or Capitalists.
Corporate copyright is a cancer on society.
CLOWN WORLD CLOWN FONT
LOOK AT MMMMMMMMEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeee!
Would this be the same Internet Archives as hosts tons of MAME ROM torrent sets?
Their legality has been dubious for a long time.
Yep, they host all number of ROMs. It seems plainly illegal to me. I'm surprised they haven't been sued by Nintendo, who are famously litigious.
Why are so many of you in doubt? The Internet Archive is way too high profile to get away with the "plainly illegal". I'm sure that they have some legal basis for all of it. For those ROMs still under ownership, and for whom the owners could be found and contacted, they may have agreements. Many other ROMs may well have entered the public domain under some sort of abandonware statute. Then there's the technique of simply owning x number of copies of the games in question, and restricting the number of simultaneous users to however many copies that is. Could have easily gotten a bunch of copies for nothing, for the mere effort of accepting donations.
Everyone knows how touchy Big Media is about alleged piracy. I expect the Internet Archive has been scrupulous in making sure they follow all the rules.
I expect the Internet Archive has been scrupulous in making sure they follow all the rulesI seriously doubt that.
Now most of the junk is basically abandoned. So no one really cares. But there is stuff that is in their romz that clearly some companies care about. You can pretty much every DOS game ever in some sets. Clearly GoG would have something to say about that.
IA has toed the line for a long time. They pretty much said 'hey if you think so we will take it down'. They have quite a large amount of stuff in that category at this point. The removal of the limiter on books was just a bit too far. It will probably end up in court. With IA saying 'soooooorrrrry' and nothing really happens.
I highly doubt that GOG will want to say anything negative about archive.org
Complying with the occasional DMCA takedown can go a long way towards protecting your piracy haven. Although maybe that won't work in this case if they are deemed to have facilitated massive infringement.
The voodoo of the "lending system" could also be useful for pulling the wool over a technologically challenged judge's eyes.
A charity with a multi-million dollar budget and access to the best lawyers money can buy does not do something as an institution that opens themselves up to multi-million dollar damages without calling said lawyers first.
The Internet Archive is way too high profile to get away with the "plainly illegal"
I'm as surprised as anyone, but seeing the 'facts of the case', I can't see any defence. They're hosting Nintendo's copyrighted ROM data.
they may have agreements
I'd be willing to bet money that Nintendo did not authorise this. They have a long history of being extremely hostile to emulation and unauthorised distribution.
other ROMs may well have entered the public domain under some sort of abandonware statute
There is no such thing as abandonware in US copyright law. Super Mario 64 is still under copyright, and Nintendo are still around.
the technique of simply owning x number of copies of the games in question, and restricting the number of simultaneous users to however many copies that is
That's not what they're doing. They're just hosting .zip archives of copyrighted ROMs.
I agree with you. The problem is that copy'right' law itself is out of control. It was written by corporate lobbyists who really shouldn't be the ones writing the laws.
> I'd be willing to bet money that Nintendo did not authorise this
Probably Nintendo didn't want to allow anyone to do anything, but they may have been presented with a dilemma that if they refused the Internet Archive, there would be, from their viewpoint, worse consequences. So they may well have authorized the use of those ROMs, if only grudgingly.
Another possibility is a legal basis specifically intended to enable libraries to preserve culture. There are rights to reverse engineer, rights to repair. Rather, there may not be anything official, more like the attempts of copyright holders to construe the law as forbidding such activity has failed. They still like to issue scary warnings that reverse engineering is illegal and could be punished with prison time, but that doesn't make it so.
And finally, for the pandemic, there is the extraordinary step of freeing digital libraries from artificial scarcity restrictions.
To sum up, the Internet Archive had to be fully aware that eventually, some copyright owners would convince themselves that the Archive was infringing their rights, and sue. They have a defense. Their defense probably is based on the law. That is, they aren't counting on a public uprising to save them, though ultimately it is public support that that keeps them alive.
And as public support is vital to the continued existence of the Internet Archive, it pains me to see people expressing doubts about them. They shouldn't be so quick and blithe about accepting that propagandistic labeling of them as just another pirate site. Do you agree that whether or not what they do is legal, it _should_ be legal?
I agree that IP laws need serious reform to undo what corporate lobbyists have done over the years. They have been expanded and extended well beyond anything reasonable.
Do you agree that whether or not what they do is legal, it _should_ be legal?
Do you agree that whether or not what they do is legal, it _should_ be legal?
Rather depends what you mean. I think the copyright on Super Mario 64 should have expired by now, so in that sense, I think it should be legal. Do I think it should be legal for the Internet Archive to host copyrighted software because their own ideology justifies it, despite that it doesn't legally qualify as fair use? No.
I'm not a lawyer though. If the result of the case is a judgement saying that this is permitted by the law (as fair use or under some other exception), then my assessment will be shown to be mistaken.
> Do I think it should be legal for the Internet Archive to host copyrighted software because their own ideology justifies it, despite that it doesn't legally qualify as fair use? No.
We still don't know the legal basis, if there is any. You have a hard time believing that there could be one, and that's understandable, with how extreme copyright law has become. So you strongly suspect they have violated someone's rights. I, on the other hand, think that given the zealotry copyright owners have shown over this issue, that the Internet Archive has carefully adhered to the law and has prepared for this eventuality. There is legal basis for what they do.
Anyway, there's a larger issue in all this. I think it important for everyone to understand that artificial scarcity is not just unnecessary and unenforceable, but bad. People still tend to accept unquestioned that without some sort of copyright, if only for 14 years or 5 years or some other much shorter time span, artists really would go hungry, and it just wouldn't be fair to them. I think we can be fair to them, without copyright. It is not necessary to accept artificial scarcities in order to be fair to artists.
But even bigger than that, is that education is copying. So very much of our education is all about learning all these fantastic scientific findings and techniques that have been developed over the centuries, and learning our culture so that we can better communicate with one another, all with which we can have those better lives that our parents and grandparents so hoped for their children. To let these wannabe hoarders of valuable knowledge get away with equating copying with stealing is to let them equate education with stealing. Anti-education is the very opposite of what publishers were supposed to be.
I think we can be fair to them, without copyright. It is not necessary to accept artificial scarcities in order to be fair to artists.
Without copyright, they'd just find other work. If there's no money to be made making something, the sector will die. If PC games can be legally pirated, we'd expect to see all games move to targeting consoles, where piracy is next to impossible (i.e. using technical measures rather than law to ensure artificial scarcity). What sort of alternative to copyright do you propose?
To let these wannabe hoarders of valuable knowledge get away with equating copying with stealing is to let them equate education with stealing.
We're talking about video game ROMs. If we were talking about Open Access academic publishing, or to the obscene way that the I Have a Dream speech is copyrighted (although it's there on YouTube), then I'd see your point.
> Without copyright, they'd just find other work. If there's no money to be made
Whoa, hold on. That's the damaging assumption people are still making. Copyright is not the only way for artists to earn a living. We can compensate artists, and do it fairly and generously, without copyright.
> where piracy is next to impossible
Piracy will never be impossible. Copy protection and DRM is a feeble joke. Suppose for the sake of argument that there was DRM that actually worked. What is to stop someone from simply re-implementing the game? In the case of a book, it's ridiculously easy. Someone could simply type the words into a word processor as they read the book. It takes only a few dozen man-hours to transcribe a book. There is no way any conceivable DRM can stop that, short of taking computers back from the people and locking them down so tightly that an attempt at transcription would be detected and the effort blocked. Even then, every computer in the world would have to be monitored, and every existing and functional old computer from the free times before this hypothetical Great Lockdown would have to be disabled, and to make extra sure, confiscated. And even if that was somehow accomplished, people could still cobble together a printing press, or even write it all down with pen and paper, or, some can just memorize the whole thing.
> What sort of alternative to copyright do you propose?
In a word, crowdfunding. Patronage, but not by the nobility as was done centuries ago, but by the public. Other avenues of compensation are endorsements, advertising, prize money, and live performances.
Another big right that could be feasible to enforce would be a sort of "performance" or "use" right, so that, for instance, an author could still demand compensation from anyone who wants to make a movie out of their book, or a musician could collect from restaurants wanting to play their music. Currently, copyright is used to do that, but I see no reason why that can't be handled with some other, more specific legal instrument. Copyright is too blunt.
Our non-copyright dependent systems for compensating artists are, as yet, primitive and small scale. Improving them is what publishers should work on, not these foolish and wasteful efforts to stop progress in the sciences so that copyright can continue to function because copying remains unreasonably hard to do.
Keep in mind that the only reason copyright works now is public sufferance. If people were really determined not to honor any copyrights at all, it would die instantly. People often pay for copyrighted works not because they are forced to do so, but because they honestly want to support the artists. A shame that the publishing industry sucks up roughly 95% of that money, passing on a miserly and pathetic 5% to the artists. Floods of money promote waste and inefficiency, and refusal to change and improve, and so it has.
Suppose for the sake of argument that there was DRM that actually worked.
There's at least one: games consoles. Modern consoles are holding up very well against hackers' attempts to subvert their DRM.
What is to stop someone from simply re-implementing the game?
The fact that it costs tens of millions of dollars to implement a modern game, of course!
In the case of a book, it's ridiculously easy. Someone could simply type the words into a word processor as they read the book. It takes only a few dozen man-hours to transcribe a book.
Agreed. It's impossible by nature to implement effective DRM for video, books, music, or audiobooks. It reduces down to the basic analog/digital distinction: people already have the ability to record, and you can't take that away by encrypting your media. Interactive media is a different beast though.
(Honourable mention to the idea of uniquely watermarking every copy of a film or song, so that if it ends up being pirated the studios know who did it. To my knowledge this watermarking technology does exist, but the idea just never really took off. Wouldn't work for books, of course.)
crowdfunding. Patronage, but not by the nobility as was done centuries ago, but by the public.
We have that: Kickstarter. It rarely works as well as the traditional game-development model, either in terms of actually raising capital, or in terms of getting the job done, with effective management etc.
Same goes for cinema. Crowdfunding is not able to pull off the kinds of high-budget productions that the traditional model is capable of. Even if it could, you have a free-rider problem and a dilution problem. Why donate a small amount that might make a difference, when you can just wait for it to be produced and then consume it for free?
There's also an uncertainty problem and an immediacy problem. Most people are casual consumers of media. They spend a certain amount of money on cinema every year by paying for access to the good films that have already been funded and produced. They can rely on reviews and word-of-mouth to provide an estimate of the films' quality. They aren't going to spend time trying to determine what's most deserving of funding so that it might produce a good product. They just want to buy a film from a shop and then watch it. (Or the streaming-based equivalent.)
As for music: live performances are already a major source of revenue for big-name musicians, but I'm not convinced it would be sustainable to withdraw music copyright entirely.
Musicians already have the option to adopt a patronage model, and to release their stuff into the public domain. They pretty much never choose to do this. I've never heard of it at least, outside narrow promotions (Coldplay once released one of their albums free, for instance).
the only reason copyright works now is public sufferance. If people were really determined not to honor any copyrights at all, it would die instantly
That's true of every law, whether about ownership rights or not.
People often pay for copyrighted works not because they are forced to do so, but because they honestly want to support the artists.
This is true in the sense that you always have the option of pirating music/films/books, sure, but at the same time it's famously rare for independent developers of Free and Open Source software (or any old freeware) to be able to get by on donations and patronage.
A shame that the publishing industry sucks up roughly 95% of that money, passing on a miserly and pathetic 5% to the artists. Floods of money promote waste and inefficiency, and refusal to change and improve, and so it has.
Music is an industry. They've got to pay for recording equipment, they've got to pay the sound engineer, construction of the recording studio, the folks who do the mixing and mastering work, etc. It may be bloated, I don't know in detail, but I'm not convinced the music industry can be reduced to artists on the one hand, and freeloaders on the other. I'm sure the top brass are obscenely overpaid, but that's a different and more general problem.
> We have that: Kickstarter. It rarely works as well as the traditional game-development model
I'd rather see some evidence to back that claim that it doesn't work as well. Humble Bundle appears to be working quite well. Even if you are correct, the reasons why are likely much more complicated than a simple "copyright works better than crowdfunding" conclusion. For one thing, copyright extremists will sabotage crowdfunding efforts. We've seen this over and over. Some classic enjoys a resurgence, new material is produced through crowdfunding, then the franchise owners wake up, and demand it all stop. They refuse to explain, but it's not hard to see that their actions undermine the development of systems that could someday supersede copyright.
> you have a free-rider problem and a dilution problem. Why donate a small amount that might make a difference, when you can just wait
But that already happens massively, under copyright. There are used book and record stores, and public libraries. "Just wait" is a highly effective strategy for the impoverished consumer to keep expenses down. "Just wait" for the paperback edition. "Just wait" some more, for used paperback editions to reach the used bookstore. Just pass books around between friends.
I've noticed that it is very common for people to overlook that an old established method does not meet the high standards they are insisting a proposed new method must meet.
> That's true of every law, whether about ownership rights or not.
Not at all. For example, many traffic laws are of the sort that if not obeyed, the violator is likely to suffer immediate and deadly consequences. Driving on the wrong side of the road is not only illegal, it's asking to die of a head-on collision.
> Music is an industry. They've got to pay for recording equipment, they've got to pay the sound engineer
Technology has brought many of those costs way, way down.
> it's famously rare for independent developers of Free and Open Source software (or any old freeware) to be able to get by on donations and patronage.
So it is. But it has happened. I suspect the difficulties are more down to the lack of robust and established systems. to insure everyone is getting a fair deal, than to the notion that maybe, it just doesn't work and never will. Copyright now works so badly that it is a very low bar indeed to come up with something better. The goal, it should be remembered, is "Progress of Science and useful Arts", but too often copyright has resulted in the opposite.
It would have been nice if they had setup it up as a separate company and website. Separating the risk would just make sense.
The way copyright has been changed has setup a situation where published works are actually being lost. The idea that someone can create something and coast on that and then their children can live off of it too, is just way too much. You aren't "protecting" them. You are only protecting litigious behavior and attorney's income (and Disney's slow march across media in general).
Strongly agree that copyright terms are way too long, but that's not exactly the question at hand.
The internet archive should continue archiving works, whether copyrighted or not. The reasonable restriction is that they refrain from publishing copyrighted parts of their archive as long as the copyright remains in force.
That way the copyrighted material can still be made available when it is lawful to do so, and is not lost forever.