A joint statement issued on 16 July by the Publishers Association of New Zealand and the New Zealand Society of Authors expressed both organisations’ shock at the announcement that the National Library of New Zealand would hand over hundreds of thousands of books from its collection to the notorious pirate site, the Internet Archive (IA).
PANZ President Graeme Cosslett said, ‘We are stunned the National Library would partner with internet pirates that currently damage New Zealand literature on a daily basis. The Internet Archive’s repeated infringements of New Zealand works shows their true nature—no claims about made-up laws, fake protocols or sanctimonious ideals can obscure this—they are committed to taking work from Aotearoa’s authors and publishers. How can the National Library stand alongside internet pirates and not New Zealand’s own literary community?’
The statement notes the National Library’s claim that an ‘opt-out’ clause for rights holders of books given to the Internet Archive will address rightsholders’ concerns and clarifies that, like the wider agreement, this mechanism has no standing in law, either in New Zealand or abroad. It appears to make claim to a presumed consent that simply does not exist, as shown by the scale of the current lawsuit from affected rightsholders.
The two organisations consider that the partnership between the National Library and the Internet Archive directly contravenes international copyright treaties to which New Zealand is a signatory and will jeopardise New Zealand’s global standing as a place where creative industries can flourish.
NZSA Chief Executive Jenny Nagle stated: ‘Internet Archive’s piracy challenges the livelihoods of Kiwi authors and publishers, who work hard in tough market conditions to bring Aotearoa the stories we treasure. The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) appears to think this scheme comes at no cost. But it brings heavy long-term costs, costs that fall squarely on local authors, publishers and the creative sector.’
As previously reported publishers and authors are closely watching a major law suit in the United States, in which member companies of the Association of American Publishers are suing IA for intentional and systematic copyright infringement.
That suit, pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York since June 1, 2020, is now winding its way through the different litigation phases. The suit outlines IA’s mass scanning, public display, and distribution of entire literary works through global-facing businesses such as “Open Library” and “National Emergency Library,” which compromise the well-established markets of publishers for both print and digital works in both commercial and noncommercial channels. IA has brazenly reproduced and globally made available to the public some 1.3 million bootleg scans of print books, including recent works, commercial fiction and non-fiction, thrillers, and children’s books. The sheer scale of IA’s infringement described in AAP’s complaint—and IA’s stated objective to enlarge its illegal trove with abandon—appear to make it one of the largest known book pirate sites in the world. IA publicly reports millions of dollars in revenue each year, including financial schemes that support its infringement design.