ELI Joins Amicus Brief in Favor of CDL in Hachette et. al V Internet Archive

The EveryLibrary Library Institute has signed onto a Friend of the Court brief in support of the framework around Controlled Digitial Lending that the Internet Archive used to set up the National Emergency Library during the depths of the COVID shutdowns in 2020. Hachette, Harper Collins, Wiley, and Penguin Random House sued the Internet Archive for damages. If the ability of libraries to lend is defeated in this case it will have a significant impact on library services across the United States. 

We are joining the brief o ask the court to uphold the library digital loaning practice known as Controlled Digital Lending (CDL). CDL uses technology to effectuate a library’s customary mission to acquire, preserve, and provide access to books for library patrons. Simply put, CDL is a different way of utilizing the centuries-old method by which libraries have loaned the books on their shelves for the public to read. Our companion organization EveryLibrary was an early signer of the CDL Position Statement in 2018.

Download and read the Amicus Brief here.

CDL should be a non-controversial issue, but some copyright holders and IP owners don't see it that way. The one-digital-lend to one-physical-book ratio means that CDL is fundamentally a mirror of traditional book lending. Without the opportunity to covert paper-only books to digital and to fulfill their core work of lending, libraries are not allowed to be libraries.  It's a right of ownership called the First Sale Doctrine that is core to all types of library services. We believe if the book has been purchased it should be available to lend - and we told the court as much. It is important to note that the publishers took the unusual step of not consenting to our filing. It will be interesting to see how the court interprets their discomfort with our argument. 

Our colleagues at Publishers Weekly and Library Journal have extensive coverage of this case. As PW notes, "The lawsuit comes nearly a decade after the courts found Google's scanning of print books to create an online index was protected by fair use. The twist, in this case, is that the books being scanned by the Internet Archive are not being read by machines seeking to make books discoverable, but by people." As we noted in this brief, "Libraries must continue to disseminate knowledge to the public by loaning books where their patrons go to access information: online. As technology evolves, libraries continually adapt their services to provide access in innovative ways to better serve their patrons. Each time libraries embrace access-expanding innovations, the courts have repeatedly acknowledged how these practices benefit the public despite publishers’ objections." We trust that the court will agree with this common sense and legally sound reasoning.  


Learn more about how CDL empowers libraries and makes reading more accessible at "How Controlled Digital Lending Makes an Entire College Library Available to Everyone Everywhere" on Medium


The brief was written by the Library Futures Institute, a non-profit grassroots organization and one of the leading digital library policy and advocacy organizations in the United States. ReadersFirst, a non-profit organization of nearly 300 libraries representing 200 million readers dedicated to ensuring access to free and easy-to-use eBook content, and the EveryLibrary Institute, a public policy and tax policy research and training organization focusing on issues affecting the future of public, academic, and school libraries and the profession of librarianship in the United States and abroad, joined.

You can read our full Amicus Curiae brief to the Southern District of New York (Case No. 1:20-CV-04160-JGK) here


The EveryLibrary Institute is a donor-supported organization focused on a policy and funding framework that supports and extends the ability of libraries to be libraries.

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