A Public Service Role For Digital Libraries: The Unequal Battle Against (Online) Misinformation Through Copyright Law Reform And The Emergency Electronic Access To Library Material by Argyri Panezi :: SSRN

Abstract:  This article analyzes the role of copyright doctrine and case law in preserving the institutional function of libraries—both on- and offline—as trusted and, in principle, neutral hubs equalizing access to credible information and knowledge in societies with structural inequalities. In doing so it examines the ongoing Hachette v. Internet Archive litigation before the US District Court of the Southern District of New York in the context of earlier copyright cases, finding that there is a persistent need for electronic access to library material online.

Libraries have traditionally served an important role as reserved spaces for legally permissible distribution of books outside of markets. Copyright law, however, has the potential to hinder the fuction of libraries and other cultural heritage institutions particularly in equalizing access to knowledge. While there exist some exceptions and limitations that partially alleviate this, their applicability in the digital environment is still contested. Two novel challenges are interfering: first, an unmet and contentious need for emergency access to electronic library material to be granted online, and second, the need to counteract historical biases and misinformation, both of which multiply when spread within a hyper-connected and digitized society. In order to ensure electronic access to credible information and knowledge, policymakers must address these challenges strategically and reassess the needs of subjects and institutions that are currently subject to copyright exceptions.

Hachette v. Internet Archive follows a string of copyright cases that involved challenges to digitization without permission and to providing electronic access to digitized library material. The plaintiffs in Hachette v. Internet Archive, four publishers, brought copyright claims against the Internet Archive for the latter’s operation of a “National Emergency Library” within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The case introduces a new dimension to existing debates around electronic access to library material, particularly around e-lending, raising the question: Can emergencies justify additional exceptions to copyright laws covering electronic access to library material, and if so, under what circumstances?

After analyzing the relevant settled case law and the ongoing litigation against the Internet Archive and then looking back into the history of and rationale for copyright laws, the article advances a normative claim—that copyright should provide better support to libraries and digital libraries in particular (broadly defined) as the institutional safeguards of our literary treasures. Libraries have a public service mandate to preserve, curate, and provide access to a plurality of original and authoritative sources, and thus ultimately aspire not to compete in the marketplace but to become trusted hubs that equalize access to knowledge. In the context of a society currently struggling to fight historical biases and (online) misinformation, providing libraries with the legal support needed to fulfill this mandate will enable them to more effectively safeguard and provide equal access to (at least relatively) credible information and knowledge, including in the digital environment.

Libraries, National Emergencies, and Access to Credible Information: Are we protecting libraries’ multiple roles during emergencies? | Authors Alliance

“On June 1, 2020, four publishing houses, Hachette Book Group, Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and Penguin Random House LLC, filed before the US District Court for the Southern District of New York a copyright infringement action against the Internet Archive for the Archive’s operation of what it called a “National Emergency Library” (NEL) after the first US shelter-in-place orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, on March 24, 2020, the Internet Archive had announced the launch of a temporary online NEL to support “emergency remote teaching, research activities, independent scholarship, and intellectual stimulation while universities, schools, training centers, and libraries were closed due to COVID-19.” In their announcement the Archive called on authors and publishers to support the effort, which would ensure “temporary access to their work in this time of crisis.” It provided an opt-in option for authors who wanted to donate their book(s) to the NEL, and an opt-out option for authors who wanted to remove their book(s) from the NEL….

In my recent article, A Public Service Role for Digital Libraries: The Unequal Battle Against (Online) Misinformation Through Copyright Law Reform and the Emergency Electronic Access to Library Material (forthcoming, 31 Cornell J.L.& Pub. Pol’y_ _ (2021)), I examine the ongoing Hachette v. Internet Archive litigation, placing it in the context of earlier US copyright case law that deals with the digitization or the making available of copyrighted works for educational, research, and other purposes (notably: Authors Guild v. Google, Authors Guild v. HathiTrust, and Cambridge University Press v. Becker). There is also a global debate focusing on similar issues, apparent, for example, in similar cases brought before courts in Europe (Technische Universität Darmstadt v. Eugen Ulmer KG and Vereniging Openbare Bibliotheken v. Stichting Leenrech), India (University of Oxford v. Rameshwari Photocopy Service), and Canada (CCH Canadian Ltd v. Law Society of Upper Canada and the recent York University v. Access Copyright)….”

Meet the Activist Archivists Saving the Internet From the Digital Dustbin | Discover Magazine

“Archive Team, a self-described “loose collective of rogue archivists, programmers, writers and loudmouths dedicated to saving our digital heritage,” is a volunteer organization that monitors fading or at-risk sites before they’ve vanished completely. When Google announced the end of failed social network Google+, the collective saved 1.56 petabytes of its data in under four weeks.

Much of what Archive Team saves is then stored within the Internet Archive, which anyone can use to digitize whatever they feel is important. But the Wayback Machine uses bots to crawl the web and take snapshots as they go, while the Archive Team is laser focused on preserving endangered sites. It’s the difference between slowly amassing a huge library and trying to save every book from a specific collection that’s about to catch fire.     To accomplish this, anyone can donate bandwidth and hard drive space to the “Warrior,” an archiving application that systematically downloads sites the group is worried about. Those downloads are then sent to the Archive Team’s servers before being moved to the safety of the Internet Archive. The Warrior’s current projects include the soon-to-shutter Freewebs, a hosting service that’s housed 55 million webpages since 2001, as well as certain subreddits that have been quarantined, often the first step discussion website Reddit takes before deleting an entire forum. The content of conversations within those communities might help researchers understand how, for example, extremist viewpoints spread online….”

Internet Archive Launches New Pilot Program for Interlibrary Loan – Internet Archive Blogs

“The pandemic has resulted in a renewed focus on resource sharing among libraries. In addition to joining resource sharing organizations like the Boston Library Consortium, the Internet Archive has started to participate in the longstanding library practice of interlibrary loan (ILL). 

Internet Archive is now making two million monographs and three thousand periodicals in its physical collections available for non-returnable fulfillment through a pilot program with RapidILL, a prominent ILL coordination service. To date, more than seventy libraries have added the Internet Archive to their reciprocal lending list, and Internet Archive staff are responding to, on average, twenty ILL requests a day….”

Economics Professor Data Mines Technology Trends Using Vintage Public Documents at the Internet Archive – Internet Archive Blogs

“Michelle Alexopoulos is interested in tracking technology trends.

For a recent project that involved out-of-print government publications, the economics professor and her coauthor Jon Cohen tapped into resources from Internet Archive—available free and online—conveniently from her campus at the University of Toronto.

Alexopoulos specializes in studying the effects of technical change on the economy and labor markets. She uses library classification systems, including metadata from the Library of Congress, to understand how quickly technology is coming to market by tracing the emergence of new books on tech subjects. When it came to looking up old library cataloging practices, some documents were difficult to find….”

Now Is Not The Time For Publishers to Go After Online Libraries: Hachette Book Group, Inc. v. Internet Archive – The Temple 10-Q

“Nothing better promotes the progress of science and the arts than access to knowledge, especially during a global pandemic. COVID-19 has highlighted how our society has changed in the past few decades and how much it needs to change in the decades to come. As schools and workplaces, law firms included, went partially or completely remote, connectivity and access to online resources became more important than ever. It is in this environment that several publishers chose to bring litigation against Internet Archive (IA) in Hachette Book Group, Inc. v. Internet Archive. 

Open Library is a non-profit digital library founded by IA that offers online access to more than 1.3 million books that it has digitized into a PDF format. Operating under the Controlled Digital Lending (CDL) model, Open Library lends out only as many books as it has physical hardcopies of. Essentially, the basis of CDL is that a book must be owned to be loaned.  …”

Calls Intensify to Allow Libraries to Narrow Digital Divide – Internet Archive Blogs

“At an event discussing disinformation and the digital divide, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon said he was committed to supporting a balanced copyright system that promotes fair use, digital lending, and the work of libraries.

“Libraries provide vital public services by making high quality resources available to everybody. And that’s true no matter what you’ve got in your bank account or your zip code,” said Wyden, noting he is the son of a librarian.  “If the system is filled with draconian copyright laws and digital restrictions that make it hard for real news to be read, shared, and discussed, that particular vacuum is filled with more misinformation and lies.” …”

A collaborative approach to preserving at-risk open access journals | Zenodo

Abstract:  In the September 2020 preprint “Open is not forever”, (Laakso et al.) discuss the high number of Open Access journals that disappear from the web. It is a known problem in the digital preservation world that long-tail journals are especially at-risk of disappearing. Five leading parties are now collaborating to address this problem: the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), CLOCKSS, Internet Archive, the Public Knowledge Project Preservation Network (PKP PN), and International ISSN / Keepers Registry. Building from the existing DOAJ infrastructure, we are establishing a central hub where preservation agencies can harvest consistent metadata, and access full-text. Each of the preservation partners offers somewhat different solutions for publishers to preserve their content. The project will offer free and low-cost options for preservation and access. In the first phase, the target is diamond OA journals (those with no author processing charges), because these are the journals that are least likely to participate in a preservation service and hence are most at-risk of disappearing. The project is currently coordinating technical designs, service development, infrastructure, and sustainability planning.