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Internet Archive's 'Open Library' to face legal challenge


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The Society of Authors (SoA) represents over 10,000 UK writers has called for the Internet Archive to "cease making available to UK users the unauthorised lending of scanned books" via Open Library in an open letter

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The Internet Archive was established in 1996 in San Fransisco to preserve internet pages, but it also collects digital books. This collection is available for users to borrow through the Open Library. The site aims to make "all the published works of humankind available to everyone in the world." 

However, the collection includes books that are in copyright and are still available to borrow to users in the UK which is illegal under copyright law.

The open letter reads: "whatever arguments you choose to put forward in the US, you must be aware that the US fair use doctrine does not apply in the UK where all scanning and lending must be authorised by the copyright owner."

The collection scans around 1,000 books a day in 28 different locations around the world. 

Hilary Mckay, who is one of the open letter's signatories told The Guardian: "It is hard enough to make a living as a children’s writer, without this continual theft of our work [...] I suggest the Internet Archive sets up an ‘opt-in’ list of writers who do not mind their work being used for free, without even acknowledgement or thanks. I suspect it will be a very short list.”

Tracy Chevalier added: "I signed because I’m very concerned that under the guise of using the word ‘library’, an organisation is trying to legitimise making pirated copies of books available to the world. Real libraries pay the publisher and author for the right to lend ebooks."

The SoA has said that if the Internet Archive does not respond by February 1st, it would ensure that books will no longer be downloadable in the UK. Legal action will also be taken in the site continues to illegally scan books by UK authors. 

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