CDL in the firing line

A row has developed about the mission of San Francisco’s Internet Archive “to provide Universal Access to All Knowledge”, just as they support the aims of public libraries everywhere in helping access to books and knowledge.

The Authors Guild in the US, the Society of Authors in the UK and the Australian Society of Authors are all challenging the ‘unlawful’ lending of scanned copies of physical books through the Internet Archive’s Open Library platform and from a number of libraries in the US. This practice, called Controlled Digital Lending (CDL), is a system by which a library scans a copy of a legally acquired print book, removes the print copy from circulation and then lends the PDF copy on a one copy/one user model, like it would a print book. However, unless authors – and publishers – are recompensed there will be no knowledge in the form of books to be scanned in the first place.

The Authors Guild (US) says “authors lose potential income from every authorised loan made under CDL. The digital reproductions and loans merely supplant the legitimate sale of ebooks, whether library editions that the library would otherwise license, or ebooks that the author or publisher would sell directly to consumers”. Apparently there is no Public Lending Right (PLR) in the US either. Source: LBF 25/1/2019

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