International concern about the Internet Archive-National Library agreement
An international group of authors, including Sir Philip Pullman, is concerned about the National Library’s partnership with the Internet Archive.
âFinding out that a large national library like New Zealand is collaborating on a project to break copyright laws and donate our work for nothing is deeply shocking,â said Pullman, President of the United Kingdom Society of Authors, in a recent letter to the library.
This week, Wellington QC Hugh Rennie sent a separate letter to National Librarian Rachel Esson, alleging the library was following legal advice from a lawyer not licensed to practice in Aotearoa.
Rennie was responding to Esson’s assertion that an “international copyright lawyer” had reported any violation of international rules and local copyright was “unfounded”.
* The Attorney General asked to investigate the agreement between the National Library and the Internet Archives
* Writers write anthology on book donation to National Library as divide deepens
* The National Library signs a “historic” agreement to donate 600,000 books to the online archives
“In the Crown sector, particularly for a national library holding public property in trust, the requirement is to obtain formal notice from the Solicitor General that your intended action is legal,” Rennie wrote.
A separate legal opinion from Andrew Brown QC and attorney Jack Oliver-Hood concluded that the library was “unquestionably liable” for copyright infringement in New Zealand courts, according to the Publishers’ Association, Authors’ Society and Copyright Licensing NZ in a third letter recently sent to the library.
“[The National Library] maybe he thought that because he does not digitize the works and because he will not release the books to users in New Zealand, he has no responsibility. If so, NLNZ is sadly mistaken, âthe letter said.
“It is not too late to [the library] to put an end to the reckless and abusive measures in which it committed itself by terminating the contract. “
All three organizations oppose the deal, which will see 600,000 books donated to the US-based Internet Archive. The archives plan to digitize the books and make them available online. The library had no room to store books as its collection grew.
The Authors’ Society, the Publishers Association and the Copyright Licensing Company had written to the Attorney General and the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, asking them to investigate the case, but had not yet received a response.
On Sunday, Esson said that the library tried to allow readers to access and use the books, while preserving the interests of their creators.
The library recently contacted the title rights holders, offering them the option to opt out of the donation – an approach, according to Esson, had previously been “recommended” by Copyright Licensing.
The library was happy that books that were rarely viewed or used were not destroyed.
The Internet Archive would make the books available to users on an individual basis using controlled digital lending, which mirrored physical lending. âControls will be in place to prevent users from downloading or copying content from digitized titles,â Esson said.
In the United States, publishing giants Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House and Wiley have filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the archive, arguing that it is engaged in an industrial piracy operation. No a date had been set for the next hearing in the proceedings.