The Internet Archive has been scanning millions of print books that they own, and loaning them out to anyone around the world, for free. Other libraries like the Boston Public Library are using the same process to make digital books too.
This is happening because major publishers offer no option for libraries to permanently purchase digital books and carry out their traditional role of preservation.
Instead, libraries are forced to pay high licensing fees to “rent” books from big tech vendors that regard patron privacy as a premium feature and are vulnerable to censorship from book banners. Under this regime, publishers act as malicious gatekeepers, preventing the free flow of information and undermining libraries’ ability to serve their patrons.
But it looks bad if publishers sue the Boston Public Library. So instead, they’ve launched an attack on a groundbreaking nonprofit, including a lawsuit with clear repercussions for every library in the US.
The @internetarchive is a library, and, like any library, it is allowed to scan the books in its collection and circulate them to its patrons (under precedent set in the Hathi Trust case).
— Cory Doctorow (@email@example.com) (@doctorow) July 29, 2020