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July 20, 2022

Update on Internet Archive lawsuit

Previously, the ASA has reported on the copyright infringement lawsuit brought against Internet Archive by US publishers Hachette, Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, and Wiley. This July marks two years since the lawsuit was filed in New York, and now the publishers have filed a motion for a summary judgment, stating that there is sufficient evidence for the court to declare the Internet Archive’s practice of mass digitisation and distribution of in-copyright books illegal.

As you may know, the Internet Archive markets itself as an international online library, scanning physical books and making those digitized copies freely available for lending to users around the world, without permission from, or payment to, publishers or creators. The ASA unequivocally supports the view of international authors’ and publishers’ groups that this practice constitutes copyright infringement. 

Internet Archive founder, Brewster Kahle, declares Internet Archive’s practices a public service, and describes his intention to provide universal access to knowledge.  

This ignores the cost of creating cultural material, such as books, and assumes that authors’ intellectual labour is a public commodity. In Australia, book creators earn a living through sales of their work, including to libraries which purchase books from publishers, and the Australian lending rights schemes (PLR/ELR), which compensate authors for the income lost from having their work freely available to borrow in public and educational libraries. By digitising and distributing copyright-protected works, Internet Archive is undermining important income streams for authors and illustrators, whose average earnings sit at approximately $12,900 per annum.

We will update you with new developments on the case, as they arise. Find out more here.