Image: On Friday, a federal judge in New York ruled that the Internet Archive violated U.S. copyright law when it digitized countless physical books from four major book publishers and offered them online. The highly anticipated verdict concerning the nonprofit’s behemoth online lending operation—3.6 million books protected by copyrights, including 33,000 of the publishers’ titles—was swift, landing days after the March 20 hearing.
“At bottom, [the Internet Archive’s] fair use defense rests on the notion that lawfully acquiring a copyrighted print book entitles the recipient to make an unauthorized copy and distribute it in place of the print book, so long as it does not simultaneously lend the print book,” Judge John G. Koeltl of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan wrote. “But no case or legal principle supports that notion. Every authority points the other direction.”
In 2020, Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House and Wiley sued the San Francisco–based Internet Archive over its National