back to article Publishers sue to shut down books-for-all Internet Archive for 'willful digital piracy on an industrial scale'

Several of the world’s largest publishers have sued the Internet Archive for its “emergency library” of 1.3 million books, claiming the organization is engaging in “willful digital piracy on an industrial scale.” On Monday, the Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, John Wiley & Sons and Penguin Random House sued the …

  1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Welcome to the mordern world

    Books, music, images, all created by artists who get paid a little and then lose control as they float about the world on the internet. At least if you are a musician you can get something back from live performances (it works for The Grateful Dead), artists can move to the graffiti world like Banksy, but all authors can do is keep writing new books...

    As for the rest of us, there's no much we can do, you can print your own money but that doesn't normally work well.

    1. whitepines Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Welcome to the mordern world

      If you'd kept copyright at sane terms (duration and license agreements) you might have an argument.

      But, as it stands, you're reaping exactly what you've sown. You made the deal to keep things legal so terrible that society is simply ignoring you now.

      Note I don't condone the piracy any more than I condone what copyright has turned into, but I will say that if I can't buy a paper copy, one on physical media (no Internet connection or authentication required), or a non-DRMed digital copy, I don't "buy" the work at all. I support open content as a means (really the only legal means) of protest as a direct result of DRM and related restrictions.

      You have no one to blame but yourself.

      1. Chinashaw

        Re: Welcome to the mordern world

        I think that you should be honest with everyone and yourself:

        You do condone piracy, you can dress it up how you like but theft is theft. You are not making a protest that is visible or viable, you are simply stealing other people's work.

        DRM is a ball ache and irritating but it also came about as much because people like you went around saying 'I don't condone piracy but if it is in a digital format, it should be free to the masses, I am downloading it for free to make this protest.'

        You don't get to walk out of a bookstore taking books for free, saying ' I am taking these books as a protest against the evils of money,' or whatever thing you are protesting about that day. So why on earth do you think you should do that on the interweb?

        That attitude is hypocritical and simply means that people who create don't get paid for their work, especially as more and more of it is sold in a digital format. If humans were all lovely and honest and hard working, Open format would be wonderful but they are not. They steal, they cheat and they lie to others and themselves (you) and as such you F*ck it all up for those of us who don't.

  2. DavCrav Silver badge

    Let's be clear here. This is theft on a biblical scale. I don't know what the IA was thinking. As a published author, they have stolen from me. I'm not impressed.

    I frequently give free electronic copies of my books away, more or less to anyone who asks, but that's very different from me grabbing a million of other people's books and handing them out to anyone who can find a website.

    1. zxmar05

      Hey comrade, what happened to "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs"?

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        "Hey comrade, what happened to "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs"?"

        You don't need to read my books.

      2. StudeJeff

        Ash heap of history

        That's Marxist, and even the communist countries don't believe in it.

    2. cornetman Silver badge

      > As a published author, they have stolen from me.

      They certainly may have breached your copyright privileges. I'm not sure how you can claim that they have stolen from you. What do they now possess that you do not?

      1. jtaylor

        "They certainly may have breached your copyright privileges. I'm not sure how you can claim that they have stolen from you. What do they now possess that you do not?"

        Control over their intellectual property. Future revenue. Possibly future research or publishing contracts.

        It's hard enough to make money as an author. Heck, if you look at the hourly income, it can be hard to justify even doing the work. Authors get whatever is left after retailers, distributors, and publishers take their money.

        Of all the things to attack about the publishing industry, I wouldn't start with the authors.

        1. whitepines Silver badge

          Of all the things to attack about the publishing industry, I wouldn't start with the authors.

          The authors could insist on continued availability of DRM free ebooks or paper books at reasonable prices. Those that just allow the publishers to set whatever terms they like for access to the content, at whatever prices the upper echelon of the market will bear (note that mandatory personal data sales / rental access is actually a price, and a high price for many), are very much complicit and partly at fault through inaction for the current situation.

          The authors are the only ones that can change this part of the equation. They need to step up before outright piracy, or unpaid open works, become the social norm.

          1. CN Hill

            'The authors are the only ones that can change this part of the equation.'

            No. Getting a book published is nearly as hard work as writing it in the first place.

            Publishers are never going to be short of authors, but as far as authors are concerned, publishers are in very short supply.

          2. DavCrav Silver badge

            "The authors are the only ones that can change this part of the equation. They need to step up before outright piracy, or unpaid open works, become the social norm."

            Sorry, so I should engage with thieves, and try to undercut free? Yeah, that's going to work.

            Let's be clear here. Almost all books are published by people who are not rich. Copying them deprives them of either money (if you were going to buy it otherwise) or the ability to control who gets to access their book (if you weren't).

            Nobody has any divine right to read my work for free. Pay or I stop doing it.

            1. stiine Silver badge

              for a certain definition of free

              Your contract allows you to prevent libraries from purchasing your books? That's how they obtain their copies that they then loan out. If you wrote a book that could be read in under 2 hours, then theoretically, it could be read by 6 people per day per library copy. Think of all of the lost sales. After a year, that's 2190 lost sales, and that's only 1 copy at 1 library. There are over 4100 public libraries in the UK. You should write your MP about the €125706000 per year that's being stolen from you by your local councils. Then you can retire to Maudsley, Southwark, London.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: for a certain definition of free

                "Your contract allows you to prevent libraries from purchasing your books? That's how they obtain their copies that they then loan out."

                I guess some readers may be unfamiliar with the Public Lending Right scheme used since 1979 by legitimate libraries in the UK?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Of all the things to attack about the publishing industry, I wouldn't start with the authors.

          Hear, hear! As an academic having to work with publishers (e.g. Elsevier, Wiley) I agree. Would even underline the p word in your sentence. I know they (the publishers) are scrambling nowadays due to the "feedback" they are getting, but it's at least a (@#$^%$#@@!) silly situation:

          Research, done with public funds, at public (funded) institutes like unis, by public funded employees to the benefit of the public (who funded it)...

          ...who then have to pay to be able to share their own bloody, public funded research results with other public funded researchers.

          So, if you didn't get it the first time: the authors have to pay for their own work, they don't get paid... But hey, it's (your) tax money anyway, so who cares...

      2. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

        In the UK, the current Theft Act includes a critical phrase 'for pecuniary advantage'. In essence it means that they are using your property to obtain money which you should have. This came about when people started ransoming back property so they could claim they never intended to keep it or else to show it as security for loans etc before replacing it.

        By making digital copies available to all for free of works without permission they are reducing the income the author receives hence theft.

      3. DavCrav Silver badge

        "What do they now possess that you do not?"

        I cannot find the Pratchett quotation at the moment, but in one of his books he said something along the lines of 'all crime is, at its basic level, theft'. Murder is theft of life, rape is theft of the ability to consent. And so on. Copyright infringement, to give it its correct term, is the theft of my ability to decide what to do with my ideas and work.

        Part of the social contract is that the work reverts to the public domain in just over a century or so, and that's fine. I think it should be earlier, but that's a debateable point. I think most people think copyright should last longer than a year though, which is how long my latest book has been published.

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          "Theft was the only crime, whether the loot was gold, innocence, land or life. And for the thief-taker, there was the chase…"

          It's from Jingo.

        2. ehaliewicz

          "is the theft of my ability to decide what to do with my ideas and work."

          You've never lost this ability, unless you're willing to argue that people reading your work and coming up with ideas inspired by it is also theft of your ability to decide what to do with your ideas and work.

    3. whitepines Silver badge

      If you're one of the few that allows an un-DRMed ebook purchase, I applaud your efforts and would purchase those works and abide by the copyright on them.

      Obviously what IA is doing here is not legal, I'm not sure how they managed to come to the conclusion that this was acceptable. That said, most publishers and authors have taken such a hardline stance on rental only content that something has to give somewhere, the copyright social contract has been repeatedly violated by the publishers via technology at this point, and I wonder if this is the first salvo in the coming war over what the new social contract for content will look like.

      In the absolute worst case. i.e. if publishers refuse to compromise and return to at least some semblance the pre-digital status quo, it's very possible for society to choose to reject the legacy publishers entirely. I wonder if IA did this on purpose to challenge the current abuses by the industry, though I suspect they just screwed up here.

      This is an issue that has been bothering me for a while now. One book I wanted access to costs well over £250 for the hardcover dead tree version, if you can get it at all, while the digital DRMed Windows-only spy-on-you-as-you-read Internet-linked version is only £30 or so. Nothing exists in between. Because I value my privacy and the permanence of my collection, I had to pay 9x more to read the work. If that's considered "fair" by publishers, it's no wonder society is starting to ignore copyright en masse.

      1. CN Hill

        So because something is too expensive for you, you have no compunction in stealing it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Theft results in a physical loss. Nothing is lost.

          A "potential sale" is not an actual sale that has been lost. I am not spending over 1/4 my monthly income on a stupid $250 book - regardless if I must do without or pirate it!

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            "A "potential sale" is not an actual sale that has been lost. I am not spending over 1/4 my monthly income on a stupid $250 book - regardless if I must do without or pirate it!"

            I agree that copies made are not equal to lost sales, that's ludicrous. All that tells you is the demand for the product at cost epsilon (not free, because there is a slight chance of being caught). However, some of the people pirating stuff would have bought it otherwise, or at least bought some stuff. Think of people with massive illegal music collections. If they didn't have that, would they have bought all of it? Of course not. Would they have bought absolutely none of it? Probably not either.

            There are positions other than 'each copy = lost sale' and 'not (any copy = lost sale)'.

        2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          So because something is too expensive for you, you have no compunction in stealing it.

          How the hell do you interpret

          Because I value my privacy and the permanence of my collection, I had to pay 9x more to read the work.

          as stealing?

    4. steelpillow Silver badge

      "I frequently give free electronic copies of my books away, more or less to anyone who asks, but that's very different from me grabbing a million of other people's books and handing them out to anyone who can find a website."

      Don't forget that one digital copy given away can very quickly become one hundred thousand pirate copies.

      I put out electronic editions through the major sales sites and they tend to earn more for me than the paper editions.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        "Don't forget that one digital copy given away can very quickly become one hundred thousand pirate copies."

        It can, and I can live with someone sending it to their colleagues. Indeed, I give it to one person specifically knowing that he will do that. I would not expect them to stick it on their website.

    5. JulieM Silver badge
      FAIL

      Theft

      Theft is dishonestly taking something that belongs to somebody else, with intent to permanently deprive them of it.

      So what is the thing that you used to have before someone made a copy of a book you wrote, that you don't have afterwards and will never have again?

  3. cbars Silver badge

    Unusually

    Sometimes copyright is painfully and incorrectly applied as a money grab. I don't think that's the case here and I'm with the big publishing houses on this one. Libraries will eventually buy more copies of the books as they wear out, and not all books are available in all libraries.

    They have to protect their claim and this is a real infringement. You should have to pay while a copyright is held, but I would add that in my opinion copyright should not extend beyond a human lifetime.

    1. Steve Foster

      Re: Unusually

      As I understand it, publishers receive ongoing payments for works lent by libraries, not just the normal purchase price of the work (using some fancy formulae).

      Assuming the former is accurate, then while the IA is probably pushing the envelope somewhat, as long as they're paying the lending fees apropos for the vastly increased lending, the publishers aren't actually losing out. Indeed, arguably, they're likely to benefit from the increased awareness of their product (more readers means more sales [ultimately]).

      Of course, it would probably have been better if the IA and publishers could have come to a negotiated agreement before all this kicked off.

      1. EatsRootsAndLeaves

        Re: Unusually

        If you're thinking of Public Lending Right (PLR) or Lending Right Schemes (ELR/PLR) then this does not exist in the United States.

        It does exist in the UK, much of Europe, Australia, New Zealand and a few others.

        So the IA has zero responsibility once they've purchased an initial copy (and therefore the royalty portion of that cost) to pay anyone anything for any lending in the USA. Whether the IA tracks and pays these fees for loans to UK or other residents, no idea. To my knowledge, these schemes generally only apply to public libraries and in some cases (e.g., Oz) educational libraries and institutions so the IA even being included would be a base question.

        Most of these schemes only pay if an author (and publisher and other eligible folks) live in the country in question, e.g., Australian authors, publishers, etc. (https://www.arts.gov.au/funding-and-support/lending-rights).

      2. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Unusually

        IA pay nothing.

  4. John 110
    Pirate

    But what about...

    ...books that are unavailable any other way than as unlicensed electronic downloads? Surely authors should welcome the exposure (yes, I know about the "for the exposure" scam) if their publisher is no longer making the work available, I have often chased a book by a favourite author only to discover that the only way to get a copy is to download it.

    1. jtaylor

      Re: But what about...

      What about finding it in a library?

      This is not a new problem. Books have been rare, specialist, or out-of-print since forever. That's why Inter-Library Loans exist. It's why libraries have rooms to study materials that are too precious to leave the building.

      I know how much nuisance this can be. In extreme cases, you might have to travel and negotiate for access to the book (if it's in a government or university library and not available on loan). Yes, it might "not be worth it" but that's not a reason to break copyright.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But what about...

        But what's the point of that? Who benefits?

      2. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: But what about...

        > Books have been rare, specialist, or out-of-print since forever

        Which is pure bullshit, especially in this age of electronic materials.

        It trains me to steal.

        If I can't get a book because it's out of print, then I'm certainly going to grab what I can get before it does go out of print.

        This is why (for example) I have a PDF of John Clarke's "Ignition!". I notice they've FINALLY reprinted it after 30 years. Sorry, too late.

        Same with Isaac Asimov's books. Dude wrote over 500 books. How many are still available to buy? Almost none... a handful of his most popular stuff, if you're lucky to find it.

        1. Falmari

          Loads are available to buy

          I did a quick search on Amazon just for paperback versions author Isaac Asimov.

          55 pages with 12 items per page it seems to me not that difficult to find.

          Seems to me you are already trained to steal because you are to lazy to look for a copy.

          1. Alister Silver badge

            Re: Loads are available to buy

            55 pages with 12 items per page it seems to me not that difficult to find.

            But a lot of duplicates, and not all of the many books are available.

            Which was his point.

        2. aks Bronze badge

          Re: But what about...

          Amazon is focused on selling new books. It also now owns Abebooks which is focused on second-hand books. You can find almost anything there.

          Looking for Isaac Asimov on abebooks.co.uk finds:

          Books (37,241)

          Magazines & Periodicals (1,830)

          Comics (7)

          Filtering those, I find 190 first edition, signed, with dust-jacket available.

          1. John 110
            Holmes

            Re: But what about...

            yebbut...

            The author (if he's lucky enough to be still alive) gets nothing from second-hand book sales so your argument is a bit daft really...

      3. Quentintheflorid

        Re: But what about...

        What about finding a library - if you can? That hasn't been closed or is under threat of closure?

        Also, not everyone lives within easy travelling distance of one of these fast disappearing public resources.

        1. Dr. G. Freeman

          Re: But what about...

          I can see my local public library from my window.

          But due to "something" it's been shut for the last twelve weeks,and probably won't be open again, by current estimates, until the day after the heat death of the universe, or as the government call it "phase 3".

          Same with all the bookshops- closed until then too,.

        2. Mage Silver badge

          Re: But what about...

          Many Libraries with real ebooks are still operating online.

    2. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: But what about...

      Also there is this resource called eBay. You can often buy books no longer published on there.

      But I presume you expect publishers to keep printing every book ever made, just in case you may want a copy.

      1. whitepines Silver badge

        Re: But what about...

        But I presume you expect publishers to keep printing every book ever made, just in case you may want a copy.

        If they insist on 120+ year copyright, YES, while they are still under copyright protection. We didn't choose to put the publishers in that position, they put themselves there with excessive copyright durations.

        If they can't at least make our culture available to us for purchase when we choose, then they should release the work to the public domain. Simple.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: If they can't at least make our culture available to us for purchase ...

          And there's your problem.

          It isn't your culture just because you want to read it.

          It's the author's livelihood and you have no rights to support such demands.

          Who gave you the power to demand what happens to someone else's work?

          Idiot.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: But what about...

        No, as he said, he wants to be able to get a copy elsewhere, without restrictions.

      3. Filippo

        Re: But what about...

        "But I presume you expect publishers to keep printing every book ever made, just in case you may want a copy."

        Nope, but anything that cannot be legally purchased ought to automatically be out-of-copyright.

        The whole point of copyright is to reward authors, while at the same time allowing other people to access and build on shared culture. An out-of-print book does neither.

        1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: But what about...

          "Nope, but anything that cannot be legally purchased ought to automatically be out-of-copyright."

          They can all be legally purchased. Write to the publisher or author and ask them how much they'll charge you to set up a one-off print run for the one book you want to buy. If you pay enough they'll print it.

        2. Sanguma Bronze badge

          Re: But what about...

          The whole point of copyright is to reward authors

          Which raises the question: how do they reward the author who's died in the meantime? If I write a novel or a history or a textbook of some sort, or a piece of music, then die, how am I to be rewarded? And the publishers sit on a vast number of texts of varying quality that have one thing in common - their authors are dead. How do they get rewarded?

          1. Lotaresco Silver badge

            Re: But what about...

            "Which raises the question: how do they reward the author who's died in the meantime?"

            The author's estate inherits the copyright and collects the royalties, which is where things often go badly wrong. The inheritors don't often have much or even anything invested in the creative work and simply look for maximum return. They often have unreasonable expectations and peevish responses. I have seen the estates of authors demand huge increases in royalties for books that have limited readership, for example. The estate will also permit uses of the copyright work that the creator had avoided all their life, just to squeeze a bit more blood from the stone.

            1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

              Re: But what about...

              Would you say that the estate is a non-practicing entity? A copyright troll perhaps?

              Same fundamental legal principle enabling. Same societal failing in response.

            2. The Nazz Silver badge

              Re: But what about...

              Or alternatively, the estate of the late great Shel Silverstein appear to take the enlightened view that he created his works to be seen, to be heard and most of all to be enjoyed, such that they allow much of his work to be freely available on the Internet.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But what about...

      OK this is a problem, but in this specific case (IA's "lending" of books) it's something of a strawman argument. There might be SOME books not available elsewhere in that 13 million book "library", but not all AND certainly not the majority.

  5. Fading Silver badge

    Can you be on the side of authors and electronic libraries....

    But against publishers? The music scene has started adapting to life in the digital age and I find I'm more likely to buy directly from the artist than on any online store. This cuts out the middleman publishers/distributors as frequently the bands/artists I like crowd fund the initial run. Most books I read are electronic (I've run out of space for hard copies at home) and these are either via Amazon prime or lately humble bundle (I now have a lot of tech books to get through). The internet archive is a great resource and I would probably be willing to pay a reasonable subscription fee for access - much as I already "borrow" some e-books from Amazon. Set up a model that pays the authors directly, cut out the publishers and put a reasonable time-limit on copyright (author's life +10 years after, 10 years seems to work in pharmaceuticals ).

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "[...] when the Internet Archive decided that due to the coronavirus it would make all its e-books available without a waiting list. That abandons the library principle of limited e-book access, the publisher's claim."

    Pardon me for asking, but isn't one of the points of digital copies that there is no limits on how many copies can be borrowed at once?

    1. mneimeyer

      As I understand it, one of the important thing that libraries depend on in the US is the Rule of First Sale. In other words, if I buy a thing I can do whatever I want with that thing. So if they buy one book they can lend one book. Doesn't matter if it is digital or physical that one to one relationship is the important part.

      It is also why Libraries that lend electronically usually do so with DRM encumbered version so that at the end of your lending period you lose access. That way you have "the only copy" for two weeks and then it goes "back on the shelf".

      1. Mage Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Ebooks are similar.

        In most countries certainly you can resell, give away or destroy the book. The physical copy is yours. But for lending there is the concept of rewarding the Author. Authors get a small royalty.

        For digital the library buys a licence to loan a certain number of copies simultaneously and royalty has to be paid. There is no physical copy.

        You'll find you can't run a library for video or audio by buying a retail copy in most countries.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. hoola Bronze badge

    Digital Era

    Unfortunately for years digital has meant free to many people. Digital copies are just too easy to distribute particularly when Internet data is unlimited for many.

    If you own a physical item, be it book, CD or DVD within reason only one copy exists. Once is it digital there is pretty much no control on how many copies of a single purchase can exist. If you loan your book or DVD to someone, you cannot use it yourself. If it is a digital copy then I suggest it is never loaned but is given.

    Companies that try to use DRM get criticised as trying to profit from the buyers but at the end of the day, their job is to make money for themselves and their clients.

    CDs were seen as a rip because you could get a track cheaper as a download. Whilst there are additional costs in the CD, the costs of the download and the amount that do to the original creator are derisory, fractions of a penny. Unfortunately the big online streaming or download platforms have broken the system such that the creator is not receiving anything worthwhile. There will always be the very few who make money but the majority don't.

    With eBooks it is even worse as there is no option of a live performance as you have with music (until COVID19).

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: Digital Era

      My problem is not with DRM per se. My problem is that DRM slices and dices my rights until nothing at all is left. In particular, it is not possible to purchase books in the traditional sense. It has become impossible for me to use one of these systems (which I have NEVER done) without being tracked for everything I do. And oh, if Amazon (or whomever) decides, I lose any or all books I have paid to access permanently and without recourse.

      Not to mention I cannot move the work to a different device without permission or a different format at all.

      If I read trash novels, I might consider using DRM. But for a work that I actually want to study, no. Just entirely no.

      1. Gavin Chester

        Re: Digital Era

        Been there, Done that.

        My purchased books on Barnes and Noble eventually vanished after they went from B&N to Sainsburies, and then to Kobo, who really dont want to suppoort a rivals obseleted product.

        If its something I think I will want to keep I buy a dead tree edition.

        1. Fading Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Digital Era

          I also have a nook - and yep it is now pretty much impossible to purchase books to read on the device from the usual sources. It is a lot easier to get hold of pirated books to read on it then go the legal route (not that I'd ever advocate such a thing) . Thankfully most of the ebooks from Humble Bundle are DRM free and in epub format already.

      2. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Digital Era

        DRM is evil and doesn't stop real pirates. It just "controls" the consumer, copyright and piracy are just thin excuses to impose DRM.

        If you chose "download and transfer via PC" on Amazon, then the publisher decides if DRM is to be used. Amazon is illegally adding DRM when they deliver KFX, when the Publisher has decided to have no DRM.

  9. poohbear

    “IA creates nothing. IA plays no role in the hard work of researching, writing, or publishing the works or, for that matter, in creating or sustaining the overall publishing ecosystem and its distinct partnerships and markets."

    Perhaps we can discuss how much academic publishers pay their authors and "peer reviewers" ?.....

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's really quite simple

    We can argue about the length of the copyright, and we may have a case.

    Ultimately, though, the rights belong to someone. If we circumvent those rights, we're in the wrong.

    Doesn't matter if we consider it actual theft, we are still in the wrong.

    It's a very entitled mindset to complain about books not being available - there is no right to access a book just because we want to; if it's out of print then tough.

    The rights still belong to someone else, and it's not within our remit to work our way around that.

    1. John 110

      Re: It's really quite simple

      "... if it's out of print then tough..."

      I was going to just downvote you, but decided to do this instead.

      In this age where storage is cheap and plentiful, there is no excuse for anything to be out of print (read unavailable). Yes, there was for print editions, they are bulky and expensive to store - authors of my acquaintance have pallets of their books in the garage that they rescued from publishers who otherwise would have pulped them - and have a shelf life unless they were printed on acid free paper, but digital versions of books should be eternal. An author going out of fashion is no reason to prevent interested readers from obtaining a copy of the book.

      Out of print isn't tough, it's negligence.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Out of print isn't tough, it's negligence.

        RE: Out of print isn't tough, it's negligence.

        No, it isn't negligence. It's a combination of choice and market forces. Both of which beat the entitlement of those who have no say in the rights. You don't own it; so it's none of your business.

        If it's out of print, then tough.

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: Out of print isn't tough, it's negligence.

          Except for that small bit in the constitution about the _limited time_. The law says that these works enter the public domain after a period. Publishers are claiming all the profits and dodging the responsibilities.

      2. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: It's really quite simple

        "Out of print isn't tough, it's negligence."

        Springer-Verlag, it appears, has digitized their entire back catalogue and will do print on demand, for a relatively reasonable price, for any book.

        1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

          Re: It's really quite simple

          Amazing, cool, and just.

  11. Silas S. Brown

    Shutting down the Wayback Machine too?

    The sentence "The publishers hope to shut down the dot-org, we understand" implies that they hope to shut down the whole of archive.org, not just the eBook library. The whole of archive.org includes a lot of resources that are nothing to do with that eBook library, most notably the Wayback Machine for showing old versions of websites. The Wayback Machine has been useful in legal cases requiring third-party evidence of what some company's or government department's website said before they changed it, so I would imagine a lot of lawyers would not like to see it disappear. It has also been useful for rescuing "dead links" on Wikipedia citations, and I'd expect some (possibly valuable) Wikipedia articles would end up being deleted if it's no longer possible to show (from a neutral and trusted third-party) what sources used to say.

    Is The Register allowed to say on what basis they understand that the publishers hope to shut down the entirety of archive.org and not just the eBook library?

  12. StudeJeff

    Disappointed in IA

    I've been a fan of the Internet Archive pretty much since first hearing about it. It's a tremendous resource whit an amazing collection of old magazines, software, radio shows and video, and public domain books, including audio books.

    However, this "Emergency Library" is just wrong. It's hard enough to make a living as a writer without an organization like IA stealing your work.

    The goal is laudable, but the IA should have worked out a deal with the publishers. Under the circumstances the publishers may have been willing to work out a good deal with IA that would have allowed people to borrow books that would expire after 30 days or so and then offer an opportunity to purchase the books.

    But IA didn't do that, it decided to just ignore the rights of the authors and steal their work.

  13. Mage Silver badge
    Devil

    IA is dishonest

    "The Internet Archive is registered as a library but has asserted an untested (the publishers say “invented”) theory called “Controlled Digital Lending” (CDL), that argues libraries are not infringing copyright when they make digital copies of books they possess. "

    Because REAL libraries do two things the IA has refused to do:

    1) They buy a real ebook at a Library price. Can be more or less than retail.

    2) They pay royalties based on how many times the book has been lent. Paper versions and audio also. The Author or whoever is the copyright holder, not the company with publishing rights, gets that.

    The IA has been scanning for years and importing MS and Google scanned books. These are PDF images with OCR for search. The ebook formats are poor. Anyway, if you or I did it, we'd be in court. The stuff that's really public domain is in the regular IA archives, no "lending" even before. The claimed Education excuse is bogus as Unis have been making stuff available and most of the IA OL is fiction.

  14. JulieM Silver badge

    A Parable

    Once upon a time, a street merchant caught a young boy trying to light a candle stump from his brazier.

    "You, lad!" roared the trader, "What do you think you are playing at?"

    "I'm just getting a light, sir," replied the boy.

    "Then you can buy a box of matches for a penny!"

    "If I had a penny," said the boy, "I would buy some matches. But I have no money!"

    "That does not give you the right to steal!", thundered the merchant.

    "Stealing?" The boy was shocked. "If I light this candle from your brazier, your brazier will still be alight!"

    "Ah," said the merchant, "But I will be a penny the poorer!"

    The boy was perplexed. "How so, sir? Even if I don't take a light with me, you still won't have a penny!"

    The merchant laughed. "Aha, child. The knowledge that you have no light is well worth a penny to me!"

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