The Internet Archive — a nonprofit, online library that lent out digital books during the pandemic — was found to infringe four publishers’ copyrights in a ruling made public last week.
Back in March 2020, the Internet Archive launched the National Emergency Library, a collection of books that were accessible online at a time when schools and brick-and-mortar libraries were shut down. Users could borrow books without having to be part of a waitlist, in effect bypassing the rules that govern controlled digital lending.
Under controlled digital lending, libraries can digitize a physical book and lend out the digital version of it. But the catch is that if the digital version is lent out, then you can’t lend out the physical book at the same time.
Essentially, what got the Internet Archive into legal trouble is that it was lending out more copies than it had purchased, explained Dennis Prieto,