European Writers’ Council (EWC) co-signed together with over 20 Organisations an Amicus Brief in Open Library Lawsuit against the Internet Archive

EWC

Posted on August 16, 2022, 8:45 am
4 mins

On Friday, August 12, 2022, the US-Authors Guild filed an amicus brief in Hachette v. Internet Archive, the lawsuit against Internet Archive’s unauthorised scanning and distribution of books through the Open Library platform.

The European Writers’ Council (EWC), together with over 20 other organisations representing writers from all genres, including visual authors and artists, playwrights, and journalists, joined the Amicus, as representative federation for writers and translators from the European Book Sector.


On Friday, August 12, 2022, the US-Authors Guild filed an amicus brief in Hachette v. Internet Archive, the lawsuit against Internet Archive’s unauthorised scanning and distribution of books through the Open Library platform. The European Writers’ Council (EWC), together with over 20 other organisations representing writers from all genres, including visual authors and artists, playwrights, and journalists, joined the Amicus, as representative federation for writers and translators from the European Book Sector. 500,000 works are published in Europe each year; a significant proportion of which are both literary and non-fiction works,  distributed in original or translation in the Anglo-American markets, making a notable contribution to the economic ecosystem. Accordingly, we also focus our attention on safeguarding the legitimate moral and economic interests of writers and translators in a global context.

The Friend of the Court brief, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, outlines the multiple ways in which Open Library damages authors and the severe impacts that would result if Internet Archive’s practices were continued.

Background

On July 7, 2022, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, and Wiley filed a motion for summary judgment in their copyright infringement lawsuit against the Internet Archive, arguing that they have contributed clear evidence to allow the court to declare the mass scanning and distribution of copyrighted books by the Internet Archive (IA) illegal. The lawsuit also takes aim at the “controlled digital lending” (CDL) theory that the Internet Archive has used to justify its copyright violations. For years, the EWC has regularly pointed out the danger of CDL, especially in connection with the so-called “emergency library” of the IA, which during the first corona pandemic made 1.4 million copyrighted works digitally available for free, without license, without remuneration to authors. However, this case of the Internet Archive has not only current significance for the Open Library project, but especially for the future: So, any institution that calls itself a library could scan physical books instead of purchasing e-book licenses. Making these scans available free of charge would do irreparable damage to the e-book market.

For EU member states, the ECJ considered in 2016 the lending of copyright-protected digital content by libraries to be permissible in principle under a to be compensated copyright limitation. However, this would require a new provision in all national copyright laws of the EU member states that comply with the requirements of the “Stichting Leenrecht” ECJ-judgment. There is expressly no obligation under European law for the member states to permit e-lending within any limitation.

To the Amicus Brief