The Attorney General in charge of investigating the agreement between the National Library and the Internet Archives

The authors and editors have asked the attorney general to investigate the legality of the National Library-Internet Archive partnership in anticipation of a looming New York court case that could see the archives cease to function.

A trial, for which no date has yet been set, sees global publishing giants Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House and Wiley take over the archives, which earlier this year were announced as recipients of 600,000 books from the National Library’s overseas published collection .

Jenny Nagle, executive director of the Society of Authors, said there was no evidence the National Library did adequate legal work “that would be expected of a government agency” before signing its agreement with the Internet Archive based in the United States, particularly with regard to copyright.

The Publishers Association and the Society of Authors believe the deal violates copyright law and fear no future for the books if the archives are ordered to close.

Jenny Nagle of the Society of Authors pictured fears the future of books if the Internet Archive is ordered to cease operations by a court.

Jason Dorday / Tips

Jenny Nagle of the Society of Authors pictured fears the future of books if the Internet Archive is ordered to cease operations by a court.

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“The National Library seems to want to put the Internet Archive first, and New Zealand’s authors, publishers and creative sector last,” said Graeme Cosslett, president of the Publishers Association.

“This illegal deal is no longer an ‘operational issue’ for the library, but rather one of its broader relationships with authors, publishers and New Zealand’s creative sector. As such, we will soon be discussing with the Minister [of Internal Affairs], with all the options on the table.

Court documents describe the case of the publishing giants against the archives, allegedly involved in a willful and massive infringement of copyright “without any license”. [or] … payment to authors or publishers ”.

An impending court case in New York could have ramifications for the Internet Archive.

LUZ ZUNIGA / Tips

An impending court case in New York could have ramifications for the Internet Archive.

If the archives were found to be in violation of copyright, “the National Library’s justifications for donating our international research collections will be invalidated,” said Michael Pringle, spokesperson for the book advocacy group Book Guardians Aotearoa.

But some copyright experts have cast doubt on the fact that controlled digital lending – in which archives claim it is engaged – amounts to piracy, highlighting the failure of the Court’s historic attempts to overturn digitizing and sharing books online.

Pringle said it was concerning the library did not seek the Crown Law Office’s opinion on the deal before closing it. “It’s definitely a breakdown [of communication], “he said.” People feel burnt and bruised. “

National Librarian Rachel Esson said the donation agreement was legally binding and the library had been in discussions with Copyright Licensing New Zealand about the agreement since October 2020. There was an opt-out option for authors / licensees copyright before the books’ expiration date. to donate.

National librarian Rachel Esson says legally binding donation is a balanced solution.

Provided

National librarian Rachel Esson says legally binding donation is a balanced solution.

“[The] Internet Archive is a nonprofit organization and a legally registered library, ”said Esson.

“Working with the Internet Archive gives us a balanced solution: these books will always be available to New Zealanders and people around the world. Previously, only about 0.5% of these books were published each year; digitizing them secures their future and means they will be read by more people.

Esson said it was the authorities’ responsibility to “move from claiming and counterclaiming to building a way forward for the benefit of all New Zealanders.”


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