Vol. 15 No. 1 (2024)

Hachette v. Internet Archive

Fabio Mercanti
Sapienza università di Roma

Published 2023-12-10


  • Hachette v. Internet Archive,
  • Controlled digital lending,
  • Open library,
  • Digital lending.

How to Cite

Mercanti, Fabio. 2023. “Hachette V. Internet Archive”. JLIS.It 15 (1):86-108. https://doi.org/10.36253/jlis.it-576.


In June 2020, some major publishers - Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, John Wiley & Sons, Penguin Random House - sued the Internet Archive for copyright infringement. The case is about the activity of the Open Library and of the National Emergency Library managed by Internet Archive. These offered digitisation and lend of printed books owned by the libraries, some of which were protected by copyright. This activity was carried out on the basis of Controlled Digital Lending, a theory not provided by US copyright law. In its March 2023 ruling, the Court agreed with the plaintiffs. In the first part of the article, the activities of the Open Library and the National Emergency Library are briefly reconstructed and the development of the litigation is put into context. The second part is dedicated to Controlled Digital Lending: the implementation process is defined, the position of its theorists is explored and the legal framework on which it is based, is reconstructed. The third part presents the main reasons for the prosecution and the Court's decision. Finally, some reflections are proposed.


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