Internet Archive introduces Sonny Bono Memorial book collection

The Internet Archive has announced the Sonny Bono Memorial Collection of books. The collection was created utilizing a relatively obscure provision of copy right law, Section 108h, which allows libraries to make available works published between 1923 and 1941 if they meet certain criteria. As long as the books are not currently being sold , libraries can scan the books and make them available.

The collection’s name, the Sonny Bono Memorial Collection, refers to the Copyright Term Extension Act sponsored by Rep. Sonny Bono.

According to the Internet archive, the hope is that other libraries will follow their lead in creating what they refer to as “Last Twenty Collections”, so-called because the law allows libraries to make available books which are in the last 20 years of their copyright.  The Internet Archive intends to add another 10,000 books to this collection in the near future.

The project helps to address the serious issue of the shrinking number of works freely available in the public domain. You can read more about the history of this project here at the Internet Archive blog.

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6 thoughts on “Internet Archive introduces Sonny Bono Memorial book collection

    • Chris, I am not sure that I understand the point you are trying to make by linking to your 2013 article now. Given the fact that the courts eventually sided with Google in 2015 on calling such scanning for libraries fair use, the same would seem to apply to the Internet Archive as far as legality is concerned. Their actions now are certainly seem legal under Section 108h. Am I missing your point? 🙂

      • It’s not the scanning that’s the problem, it’s the lending those scans out to people. You don’t get to lend copyrighted books out digitally just because you have a paper copy you’re holding onto while the digital one is out. Copyright law doesn’t work like that.

        If they were to lend out the paper copy ALONG WITH the digital copy, they might have a case under fair use. (You’re permitted to make all the copies you want as long as they accompany the original or are destroyed when the original changes hands.) But that would be rather more inconvenient in terms of usage.

        • Section 108 seems to give a lot of leeway to libraries on issues of scanning and distribution, including loaning scans. I don’t disagree entirely with your position, but I guess my question is, if this is a legal issue, why has no one filed some sort of lawsuit to stop it?

          And for the record, I have borrowed a couple of these unproofed epub scans from the Open Library and they are really pretty bad.

          • I’m not sure the Internet Archive, for all of Kahle’s love for libraries, qualifies as one itself. And really, in re the lawsuits, as I noted in the post I linked, that’s what I’m wondering as well.

            • Since the Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit library, and given the site’s relationships with other libraries, I think they probably qualify. 🙂 Section 108 also mentions archives. The lending issue may fall into a gray area of the law. Sometimes publishers don’t want to force an issue, because they are afraid of setting precedents if they lose….

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