by Andrew Bauld | Medium
February 13, 2023
A court decision could limit how you access e-books from the library
When the pandemic began and schools and libraries around the country were forced to close their doors, teachers and librarians were at a loss over how to get digital books into the hands of young readers and their families.
The problem was so drastic that the Internet Archive (IA), a nonprofit digital library, declared a National Emergency Library (NEL) lending program. With more than a million digital books in its Open Library collection, the IA temporarily suspended its usual limit on lending digital copies one at a time during this unprecedented period.
While the move was heralded by many readers, schools, and libraries, others weren’t so happy. Several well-known authors blasted the program as “piracy.” Then, two months after it began, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, and John Wiley & Sons sued the IA, alleging “willful mass copyright infringement.”
Now over two-and-a-half years later, arguments have been fully briefed in the district court, but what began as a dispute over the NEL has grown into a much more complex fight over copyright law, the lending of digital books, and the future of libraries.
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