The Internet Archive is a nonprofit organization that has been digitizing books for years, and its Controlled Digital Lending program allows users to borrow scanned copies of books for a limited period, similar to a traditional library lending system. The program is design to help provide access to books that are out of print, hard to find, or otherwise unavailable, and it is particularly useful for researchers, scholars, and students.
The publishers who filed the lawsuit against the Internet Archive argued that the program violated their copyrights and that the nonprofit organization was essentially running a piracy operation. The judge agreed with this argument, stating that the program was not protect by the fair use doctrine because it was not transformative and did not offer any new insights or commentary on the original works.
The Lord Justice also noted that the program did not operate like a traditional library lending system, in which physical copies of books loaned out and returned, and that the digital copies offered the Internet Archive access essentially permanent copies that could by an unlimited number of users simultaneously. The judge concluded that the program “amounts to willful copyright infringement.”
The Internet Archive has argue that its program is legal and is similar to traditional library lending systems and that it is helping to preserve and provide access to books that might otherwise lost or forgotten. The organization has stated that it plans to appeal the ruling and continue its efforts to provide access to digital books. However, for now, the digital book lending program will suspended until the appeal heard.