In 2020, publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, John Wiley and Penguin Random House sued the Internet Archive (IA) for copyright infringement, equating its ‘Open Library’ to a pirate site.
IA’s library is operated by a non-profit organization that scans physical books and then lends the digital copies to patrons in an ebook format.
While ‘digital’ book lending is not uncommon, libraries typically loan out DRM-protected files after acquiring a license from publishers. In this case, IA sent physical books it owned to a scanning facility and made its own copies.
Fair Use or Mass Copyright Infringement?
These digital copies were subsequently loaned out to patrons, with IA ensuring that only one person at a time could access a single digital copy of a single physical book.
IA previously sought summary judgment in its favor, arguing that a digital copy of a physical book ‘transforms’ the original work, with lending limits and the absence of profit also supporting a finding…