Internet Archive Will End Its Program for Free E-Books

The nonprofit has said its National Emergency Library was a public service to people unable to access libraries during the pandemic, but publishers and authors accused it of theft.

Credit…Lianne Milton for The New York Times

Internet Archive is ending its program of offering free, unrestricted copies of e-books because of a lawsuit from publishers, which said lending out books without compensation for authors or publishing houses was “willful mass copyright infringement.”

Since March, Internet Archive, a nonprofit, has made more than 1.3 million books available online without restriction, calling them a National Emergency Library. It said the program was in place “to serve the nation’s displaced learners” during the coronavirus pandemic, and that it would keep the library open until June 30 or the end of the U.S. national emergency, whichever came later.

Read more here in the New York Times

“I recognize the value in preserving culture and ensuring that it is accessible by future generations,” Mr. Tillis wrote in the letter Wednesday. “But I am concerned that the Internet Archive thinks that it — not Congress — gets to determine the scope of copyright law.”

More on this from NPR:

“The Internet Archive hopes to fool the public by calling its piracy website a ‘library’, but there’s a more accurate term for taking what you don’t own: ‘stealing,’ ” Douglas Preston, president of The Authors Guild said in a statement supporting the publishers’ lawsuit Monday.

“What Internet Archive is doing is no different than heaving a brick through a grocery store window and handing out the food — and then congratulating itself for providing a public service,” Preston continued. “It’s not a public service to violate the rights of thousands of hard-working authors, most of whom desperately need the income.”

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