POLICY BRIEF: Opposing Attempts to Criminalize Librarianship through State Obscenity Laws

“In 2023-2024, we anticipate that many legislators whose bills failed the last session will reintroduce language in this session and anti-access activists will be inspired to sponsor their own regressive initiatives. The EverLibrary Institute is releasing a new Policy Brief “Opposing Attempts to Criminalize Libraries and Education Through State Obscenity Laws” to help state library associations anticipate this legislation and prepare properly to oppose unnecessary politicized changes to settled state law….”

Fair Use Creep Is A Feature, Not a Bug

“Fair use is essential to internet for at least two reasons. First, the vast majority of what we do online, from email to texting to viewing images and making TikToks, involves creating, replicating, and/or repurposing copyrighted works. Since copyright is a limited but lengthy monopoly over those works, in theory, using or even viewing them might require a license; now, and for many decades in the future.

Second, technological innovation rarely means starting from scratch. Instead, developers build on existing technologies, hopefully improving them. But if the technology in question involves code, it is likely copyrightable. If so, that add-on innovation might require a license from the rightsholder, giving them a veto right on technological development.

As digital technologies dramatically (and sometime controversially) expand the reach of copyright, fair use helps ensure that the rights of the public expand as well….

In Hachette v. Internet Archive, four of the biggest publishers in the world, are trying to shut down Controlled Digital Lending, which allows people to check out digital copies of books for two weeks or less and only permits patrons to check out as many copies as the Archive and its partner libraries physically own. That means that if the Archive and its partner libraries have only one copy of a book, then only one patron can borrow it at a time….

Fortunately for the public, fair use has likewise grown to protect the original purpose of copyright: to encourage forward progress. And no matter what Hollywood or John Deere tells you, that’s a feature, not a bug.”

The Fundamental Right to Education and Science: Constitutional Law vs Copyright Law – LIBER Europe

“In October 2022 we witnessed a significant development in Finland, with the Parliament’s Constitutional Law Committee concluding that the government’s draft implementation of the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive is not in line with the Finnish constitution. In particular, the Committee found that it conflicted with human rights – namely the right to education and science under Section 16 of the Finnish Constitution….

Until developments in the autumn of this year in the Finnish Parliament, we have been unaware of the fundamental human right to education and science being used in practice by European legislators[1] to challenge the broadening scope of exclusive rights under copyright law….”

GitHub is Sued, and We May Learn Something About Creative Commons Licensing – The Scholarly Kitchen

“I have had people tell me with doctrinal certainty that Creative Commons licenses allow text and data mining, and insofar as license terms are observed, I agree. The making of copies to perform text and data mining, machine learning, and AI training (collectively “TDM”) without additional licensing is authorized for commercial and non-commercial purposes under CC BY, and for non-commercial purposes under CC BY-NC. (Full disclosure: CCC offers RightFind XML, a service that supports licensed commercial access to full-text articles for TDM with value-added capabilities.)

I have long wondered, however, about the interplay between the attribution requirement (i.e., the “BY” in CC BY) and TDM. After all, the bargain with those licenses is that the author allows reuse, typically at no cost, but requires attribution. Attribution under the CC licenses may be the author’s primary benefit and motivation, as few authors would agree to offer the licenses without credit.

In the TDM context, this raises interesting questions:

Does the attribution requirement mean that the author’s information may not be removed as a data element from the content, even if inclusion might frustrate the TDM exercise or introduce noise into the system?
Does the attribution need to be included in the data set at every stage?
Does the result of the mining need to include attribution, even if hundreds of thousands of CC BY works were mined and the output does not include content from individual works?

While these questions may have once seemed theoretical, that is no longer the case. An analogous situation involving open software licenses (GNU and the like) is now being litigated….”

Supreme Court To Launch Project For Free Digital Access To Verdict Reports

“In another step towards digitalization of the judiciary, the Supreme Court will launch on Monday a project which will provide free access to official law reports of its verdicts to law students, lawyers and the general public.

The Electronic Supreme Court Reports (e-SCR) project will be unveiled on the direction of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud as an initiative to provide the digital version of the court’s judgments in the manner as they are reported in the official law report – ‘Supreme Court Reports’.

A team comprising officials of Judges’ Library and Editorial Section worked tirelessly and within a short span of 15 days, almost 34,013 judgments were split to create a database suitable for meeting the requirements of the search engine developed by the Supreme Court with the NIC, Pune….”

Fighting for the Digital Future of Books: 2022 in Review

“EFF client Internet Archive has created one of those spaces. Through Controlled Digital Lending (“CDL”), the Internet Archive and other nonprofit libraries make and lend digital scans of print books in their collections, at no cost to their patrons.  CDL allows people to check out digital copies of books for two weeks or less, and only permits patrons to check out as many copies as the Archive and its partner libraries physically own. That means that if the Archive and its partner libraries have only one copy of a book, then only one patron can borrow it at a time, just like any other library. Through CDL, the Internet Archive is helping to foster research and learning by helping its patrons access books and by keeping books in circulation when their publishers have lost interest in them….

If the publishers have their way, however, books, like an increasing amount of other copyrighted works, will only be rented, never owned, available subject to the publishers’ whim, on their terms. This is not a hypothetical problem, as students at Georgetown, George Washington University, and the other members of the Washington Research Library Consortium learned last fall when they discovered that found 1,379 books could no longer be borrowed in electronic form….”

ELI Joins Collaborative Amici Brief About Access to Public Laws by the Public – EveryLibrary Institute

“The EveryLibrary Institute is proud to join a collaborative amici brief filed by Library Futures alongside the Authors Alliance and Public Knowledge in “American Society for Testing and Materials, et al. v. Public.Resource.Org”, a case currently pending in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Libraries exist in part to provide access to information for the public. This function is even more critical for patrons who need to understand the laws, regulations, and rules by which we are governed. This case highlights the critical role of the library in helping people access the law.

The issue at hand with this case is whether or not the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and its co-plaintiffs can limit access to public laws by the public through the restrictions allowed to a publisher or IP holder through the exercise of copyright law. Fundamentally, is it within the right of ATSM to claim ownership of public laws through the publishing process? As we state in the brief, “With the backing of the incredibly strong bundle of exclusive rights that copyright law provides, ASTM is able to impose such restrictions on users with the knowledge that those users have no choice but to agree [to a privacy policy and terms of service], given that they have no alternative pathways through Public Resource, or through libraries. ASTM’s exercise of these rights and its version of free access stands in stark contrast to the protected and careful means through which libraries provide access to researchers and other users of legal information.”…”

In the Shadow Library · LRB 14 December 2022

“Last month, Z-Library – one of the world’s most popular ‘shadow libraries’, or unlicensed eBook databases – was shut down by the FBI. Two of its alleged operators, both Russian nationals, were arrested in Argentina on behalf of the US authorities and charged with criminal copyright infringement. Z-Library, which archived 11 million books and 84 million articles, had a good claim to being the largest resource of its kind, and had managed to skirt serious legal action since it first emerged as a replica, or mirror, of Library Genesis (LibGen) in 2009.

After the arrests, most of the domains associated with Z-Library were overwritten by an FBI seizure notice, but the repository was still accessible via Tor and other anonymising browsers. A few days after the official indictment the remaining Z-Librarians realised a statement. They expressed regret at the arrests and apologised to any writers who had ‘suffered’ because of the site, but stuck to the principles that had guided its creation. ‘We believe,’ they wrote, ‘that the knowledge and cultural heritage of mankind should be accessible to all people around the world, regardless of their wealth, social status, nationality [or] citizenship.’ The democratisation of knowledge, they maintained, was Z-Library’s ‘only purpose’. They quoted a few lines from Queen’s ‘The Show Must Go On’, and went silent….”

PETITION: Mega-corps are trying to ban libraries from owning digital books!

“Currently, major publishers offer no option for libraries to own and preserve digital books. They’re even suing to ban libraries from making their own digital books. With so many diverse voices published only in digital format, and digital books often more accessible for the most marginalized library patrons, this is unacceptable. Sign on now to demand that the largest publishing lobby in the US reverse course and stand up for libraries in 2023! …”

How Google and Amazon helped the FBI to successfully track the Russian owners of Z-Library – Good e-Reader

“Behind-the-scenes information is slowly pouring out as to what really happened as the cops closed in on Z-Library and eventually took it down. As TorrentFreak reported, active co-operation from companies like Google and Amazon helped the FBI in tracking the activities of the company as well as its Russian owners. Also, from what the investigators revealed, tracking down the owners of what came to be known as the world’s largest digital library proved to be much simpler than they might have thought.

The FBI, armed with search warrants aimed at Google and Amazon found it relatively easy to unravel the truth given how, as the investigators soon got to know, the need to secure their identity never seemed to be the top priority for the owners Anton Napolsky and Valeriia Ermakova. Both have since been arrested from Argentina and chances are that they will be deported to the US for further investigation….”

FBI takeover Zlibrary BookTok Erupted – The Washington Post

“The FBI’s takedown of Z-Library, one of the world’s largest repositories of pirated books and academic papers, this month set ablaze the subset of TikTok devoted to discussing books and authors, said Lexi Hardesty, a BookTok content creator….

The FBI revealed Wednesday that two Russian nationals, Anton Napolsky and Valeriia Ermakova, have been charged with criminal copyright infringement, wire fraud and money laundering for operating Z-Library….”

Feds arrest Russians with alleged ties to pirated ebook site Z-Library – The Verge

“Federal law enforcement arrested and charged two Russian individuals with criminal copyright infringement over their alleged involvement with the pirated ebook Z-Library. Z-Library, which has been around since 2009, billed itself as the “world’s largest ebook library” before the US government shut down the site earlier this month.

According to the Department of Justice, the pair in question, Anton Napolsky and Valeriia Ermakova, were arrested in Argentina at the request of the US government on November 3rd. In addition to criminal copyright infringement, the two are also facing charges of money laundering and wire fraud. The US government shut down and seized the domains associated with Z-Library at the time of their arrest, but, as noted by Ars Technica, some users are still able to access the site on the dark web….”

FBI takeover Zlibrary BookTok Erupted – The Washington Post

“The FBI’s takedown of Z-Library, one of the world’s largest repositories of pirated books and academic papers, this month set ablaze the subset of TikTok devoted to discussing books and authors, said Lexi Hardesty, a BookTok content creator….

The FBI revealed Wednesday that two Russian nationals, Anton Napolsky and Valeriia Ermakova, have been charged with criminal copyright infringement, wire fraud and money laundering for operating Z-Library….”

Two Russian Nationals Charged with Running Massive E-Book Piracy Website | USAO-EDNY | Department of Justice

“Earlier today, in federal court in Brooklyn, an indictment and a complaint were unsealed charging Russian nationals Anton Napolsky and Valeriia Ermakova with criminal copyright infringement, wire fraud and money laundering for operating Z-Library, an online e-book piracy website.  The pair was arrested on November 3, 2022 in Cordoba, Argentina at the request of the United States.  At the same time, Z-Library’s network of online domains was also taken offline and seized by the U.S. government, pursuant to a court order that was also unsealed today….”