The Internet Archive (IA) plays a critical role in democratizing access to the world’s knowledge. As a library, it provides a wide range of services, that include collecting and preserving materials ranging from books to audio recordings to the full content of the World Wide Web, and ensures that the public has barrier free access to this content.
In June, a group of publishers filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of one of these services, the National Emergency Library (NEL), a temporary program that the IA set up to ensure the public could access books online while most libraries are physically inaccessible during the COVID-19 pandemic. Critically, the lawsuit also targets the practice of Controlled Digital Lending (CDL), the process of scanning a copy of a print book and lending it one digital copy at a time to one reader at a time—mirroring the long-standing library practice of lending physical books. CDL plays an important role in many libraries, and has been particularly critical to many academic and research libraries as they work to support students, faculty, and researchers through this pandemic.
SPARC supports Controlled Digital Lending and has joined other libraries, library organizations, and individual librarians in signing this Position Statement to voice our support for this important library practice, and we encourage others in the community to consider signing the statement as well. You can read the statement here and add yourself or your organization as a signatory here.