“Sign up, log on, and borrow!”
Authors on social media are angry about the new service ~ the National Emergency Library, from the Internet Archive. It offers borrowing of 1.4 million books without a waiting list. Some think it is great.
Others think “allowing unlimited downloads of books under copyright, for which they have not paid, and have no legal right, is piracy.” It is not only illegal but also removing a source of income from authors when they need it most.
The Authors Guild thinks the Emergency Library uses the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to weaken copyright law. The Association of American Publishers declared itself stunned by the “aggressive, unlawful, and opportunistic attack on the rights of authors and publishers in the midst of the pandemic.”
The Internet Archive maintained that it was doing absolutely nothing predatory or illegal, and that it was simply stepping up to help the nation’s readers during a national emergency.
Readers just looking to access books while also staying home could be confused.
Most public libraries have shut their doors. You can still access ebooks through their systems, but there may be a waiting list for the most popular books. Many indie bookstores have closed their doors. Amazon does not prioritize nonessential packages. So where can you go to get your book fix?
The Internet Archive argues that it is doing what public libraries do, only it has eliminated the waiting list. Authors argue that it is making a rights grab that affects their bottom line.
Traditional libraries license their ebooks directly from the publisher.
The Emergency Library does not. Libraries license ebooks from publishers and lend them out to patrons, but they pay substantially more than individual readers do when they license ebooks. (You never really buy an ebook — you just buy a license to read it.)
The files that libraries lend out have code embedded that makes it impossible for them to go to more than one patron at a time — hence those public library waitlists.
This model allows libraries to make their books accessible digitally, but it also allows publishers, and by extension authors, to get paid for their work without losing sales.
Read the whole article: